Aside from the rarity of being a twin (roughly only 33 out of every thousand births are multiples of any kind), being born at the same time as another human being imparts a special bond that people born through single births simply can’t understand. Growing side by side as their bodies develop turns into growing older at the same rate and often going through the same familial issues. It’s the shared experience of brothers and sisters – complete with different personalities and personal quirks – amplified even further through closer proximity. But what happens when someone’s biological other half passes away?
This is the question director and twin Anna van der Wee looks at in her hour long documentary Lone Twin (airing Wednesday, February 15th at 9pm on TVO), a deeply personal and soul searching look her own loss and struggles to come to terms with a fractured sense of identity following the loss of her brother Dirk when they were only twenty years old. Anna, who always acted as the wild child to Dirk’s calm loner, takes stock of failed past relationships that she sees now as not working out because she was always searching for a replacement to Dirk. She talks at length about feeling alienated from her family after her parents and older sister monopolized their grief to the point where they acknowledged Dirk’s death, but not the fact that Anna was still alive, the scarring from which Anna admits hurts almost worse than Dirk’s passing.
Following a brief look at twins through history (from the Greek mythology of Cator and Pollux to the modern mythology of Luke and Leia Skywalker) and interviews with various twins talking about their deep personal bonds, Anna sets out in search of other “lone twins” and talks to experts (many of which are also twins) about personal identity following the death of such an extremely close loved one. A particularly bittersweet section of the film finds Anna talking to Graeme, a sweet and lovable Star Wars cosplayer (complete with a really awesome Boba Fett costume) who only lost his brother two years ago. With the memory still fresh, Graeme constantly wonders if he should hold back introducing himself to people as a twin since it was a huge part of his identity that suddenly doesn’t exist anymore.
The first part of the film takes a little while to get going, but as it gets more and more personal, Lone Twin offers some keen insight into a world that few people outside of those living within it can really comprehend. Anna van der Wee does a great job behind the camera telling a story equal parts personal and universal, while never shying away from people in her past telling her answers she doesn’t necessarily want to hear. Lone Twin equates losing a twin sibling as losing a family member, a best friend, and part of one’s soul at the same time, and it does a fine job showing just how awful that truly sounds.
Lone Twin airs on TVO Wednesday February 15th at 9pm on TVO.