(Screened at the Telluride Film Festival; release date TBA.)
Tell Me Who I Am belongs to the category of documentaries that are better enjoyed the less you know ahead of time. Netflix is a great home for these, as the 24/7 availability and near-zero cost make it easy to give it a look when a friend texts you saying, “You HAVE to watch this!” It’s mostly a talking-heads doc, with identical twins Alex and Marcus Lewis interviewed (separately) about the aftermath of Alex’s motorcycle accident when they were 18. Alex came out of his coma with amnesia on every subject except for Marcus, whom he knew was his twin, though he couldn’t remember anything of their lives together. It befell Marcus to teach Alex the details of daily life (even down to things like tying his shoes), how the household operated, what their relationships were like with their distant, hated father and vivacious, larger-than-life mother. Marcus also answered Alex’s questions about their childhood, using photographs to supplement his descriptions of the past and help Alex recreate the memories. Marcus was the one thing Alex knew he knew, his north star; the movie is about how Marcus handled that responsibility. Unlike some Netflix docs (I’m thinking of Abducted in Plain Sight), the twists and surprises here are sobering, not look-at-these-idiots entertaining; rather than being shocked at people’s decisions, you think: Wow, I might have done the same thing. Director Ed Perkins uses reenactments and recreations sparingly and never cheesily, relying instead on the men’s present-day interviews and a lot of photographs. Their story is fascinating and unsettling, and the film tells it without sensationalism.