An image from Three Identical Strangers.

A young man shows up for his first year at college—and gets greeted as if he’s been there before. Eventually, someone figures out he’s the identical twin of a former student; this brings about a reunion of the two siblings. It becomes a big story in the newspaper, and then another young man sees the boys and instantly notices a resemblance.

Boom … the three identical brothers, all adopted by different families, find each other as young adults in New York. This is the fascinating tale behind documentary Three Identical Strangers.

I lived in Long Island, N.Y., when the story broke about these guys. They became a sensation, showing up on talk shows and even opening their own restaurant. Sadly, as Tim Wardle’s documentary shows, when the boys found out the real reason for their separation at birth, things took a sad and ultimately tragic turn.

The documentary is set up in a way that, even if you remember this story, what happens in the end will surprise you. The now-grown men sit for interviews, and the stories they tell are captivating, entertaining and maddening at once.

Three Identical Strangers is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).