Imagine finding out that you have an identical twin. She lives halfway across the world from you and has grown up in a completely different culture with a family you’ve never met. For 25 years, you had no clue she existed. That’s what happened to Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier. Their story was captured in a documentary called Twinsters, which was released on Netflix in early November after the twins raised over $40,000 in funding through Kickstarter.
Futerman, a young Los Angeles-based actress, has appeared in films such as Memoirs of a Geisha and starred in KevJumba’s Youtube videos. It was through watching one of these viral videos that Bordier, a French fashion student living in London, realized that Futerman looked exactly like her. After a few Google searches, she found they had the same birthday and were both adopted. When she reached out to Futerman through Facebook and Twitter, the two discovered they shared a birthplace—Busan, Korea—as well.
Throughout this moving documentary, we not only see the expected shots of the twins in their day-to-day life, but also get a closer look at their developing relationship through Facebook conversations, text messages, and Skype calls. Witnessing these conversations on screen makes it feel as if we were on the other side of the interaction, holding their phones or using their laptops. This modern, social media-based style of storytelling keeps the pace moving fast, and allows us to feel fully immersed in the sisters’ lives. We join along for every step of their personal journey, from Futerman’s first video blog to the twins’ DNA test to their illuminating travels through Europe, the United States, and Korea.
During their first Skype call, we witness Futerman and Bordier’s elated shock at seeing mirror images of themselves in each other. Futerman’s first words are “Oh my god, you’re European!” which is met with laughter from Bordier. The two can’t stop commenting on how weird they feel, comparing themselves to Lindsay Lohan and her double in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap and sharing stories about their excitement at discovering a potential sister. It’s amazing how candid they are upon a first meeting, as Bordier jokes about how much she needs to go to the loo after drinking too much tea. Basically, it’s sibling love at first sight.
What’s most captivating about Twinsters is how raw and unfiltered the emotions are. We witness the awkwardness of the long-anticipated initial meeting, the sisters’ uncontrollable joy when they find small things in common, and their anxiety and fear that they might not actually be related. Our intimacy with the twins is so strong that we forget there’s a camera capturing the scenes.
It helps that Futerman and Bordier both have fun, infectious personalities. They can’t stop giggling when they’re around each other and are quick to develop inside jokes (by saying the word “pop!” in a funny way or by calling each other “fish” and “snail”), which become a symbol for the audience of the sisters’ unexplainably deep connection with each other. As Futerman puts it, “It’s crazy to unconditionally love someone you’ve never met,” and the warmth of the sisters’ relationship is palpable even through a screen.
It’s a rare honor to be let into such a heartwarming series of events, as the sisters learn more about each other and get introduced to their respective families. I spent the whole documentary smiling, laughing, and even at times tearing up. The film touches upon deeply human themes, from the flexible definition of family to the range of feelings associated with adoption. It even showcases the Internet’s ability to bring people together, beyond just typing on a keyboard. Twinsters is unmatched in its ability to make you feel connected with its subjects, and its lighthearted and intimate way of capturing such life-changing moments is truly an accomplishment.
The only reason I wouldn’t recommend watching Twinsters is because it’ll make you wish you had a long-lost identical twin, too.