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Worth A Look75%
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1 review, 2 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Works out as well as you could hope."
4 stars

I've noted before that young actresses often have to write something for themselves if they want a good part, but what about when you discover that your own life may be that good part. If you're Samantha Futerman, you start filming within a couple of days and hope that you're making what she and co-director Ryan Miyamoto eventually get: One of the happier documentaries you're likely to see.

Viewers may recall Futerman from roles in Memoirs of a Geisha and 21 and Over (or at least the trailer for the latter, where she had one of the most memorable bits), but it's a YouTube video she made with a friend that makes the friends of Anaïs Bordier take notice. Sam and Anaïs look strikingly similar, and when they discover that both were born in Busan on the same day before being adopted by families in New Jersey and Paris. Within days they're skyping and finding that the resemblance is more than skin-deep. It's enough to convince Sam - now living in Los Angeles - to visit Anaïs in London for her student fashion show in May well before the DNA test is back.

There's not a lot of suspense to that, because just look at them, and that's just fine - the utter delight they show upon discovering each other, both online and in person, is not something where the audience would want to sniff even a chance of contradiction. It's a pure joy that seems almost inexhaustible, aided in large part by how Sam and Anaïs are both cheerful, funny people full of youthful energy. It's a film built to keep a smile on a viewer's face almost constantly, and why manufacture the possibility of it being otherwise in the short term?

It's not a dull, unmodulated joy, though - Futerman makes sure to insert her own nervousness into the opening scenes, when it is really almost entirely from her perspective, but it's when Anaïs is a more active participant that things get more interesting, as the pair display very different feelings toward being adopted. For all that it is pretty easy to tell them apart from the start despite the emphasis on how much they have in common, the later parts of the film when they visit Seoul for a conference of foreign adoptees are perhaps an even richer vein of material as Sam learns to understand Anaïs more and she starts to view herself much less as unwanted rather than the lonely, often angry kid she was described as being.

The exponential growth and combination of their families emerges as a theme throughout the film, most notably in London and Seoul, and that Miyamoto is able to get shots that convey this so well visually in London seems like a one more bit of good fortune in a film built out of it: Even in a more connected world, that the pair found each other seems tremendously unlikely, and that Futerman and what became her crew were both inspired to start documenting from the start down to recording video calls means that very little seems missing. I did wonder, a bit, how much Sam, being an actress, was playing to the camera early on, but those concerns soon dissipate - she seems no less genuine than everyone else, and that tendency to perform a bit is probably a big part of who she is in everyday life.

As with most documentaries, a lot of the work was likely done in the editing room, and Jeff Consiglio does yeoman's work assembling it into something leisurely but never slow. He's probably one of the most experienced people working on the film, but that's not a bad thing - the young filmmakers have good instincts on how to present their story, especially when it comes to casually integrating a lot of communication that was done via the internet. There's bright, cheery animation in points and a very modern look to the design throughout the movie.

There are some, I suppose, that might wish "Twinsters" eventually displayed a more traditionally dramatic arc, or spent more time digging into the more unsettling questions of what sort of situation has the girls both given up for adoption an separated. That's fair, but there are not a whole lot of movies that do nearly as good a job of making their viewers happy as this one; I'm really glad it worked out so well.

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originally posted: 08/25/15 15:07:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/23/17 John Holland Well worth top rating for the simple unforced joy of it. Awesome indeed. 5 stars
4/12/16 brian Great to see a true story that makes me smile so much my cheeks hurt. 5 stars
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Directed by
  Samantha Futerman
  Ryan Miyamoto

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