Netflix’s Tell Me Who I Am is a well-made, dark, tragic and often painful to watch documentary. A must watch of 2019, and one that is handled with care.
If you are reading this review, and you have not read the premise for the Netflix documentary Tell Me Who I Am, I’d prepare yourself for an extremely difficult feature to watch.
I viewed the film knowing very little, discarding the vague premise believing it would be an insightful tale about twin brothers. It documents how one of the brothers was in a near-fatal accident, thrown into an induced coma, and when he wakes up, he only remembers his twin brother.
Act one describes how Marcus helped his twin brother Alex resurface in the real world. Teaching him the basics; “Here is the kitchen, here is the TV, here is where we sleep”. Tell Me Who I Am puts the audience in a false sense of security, believing that this is a simple tale of rehabilitating a family member. Marcus shows Alex family photos, snippets from holidays and the presentation of a lovely, yet privileged childhood. Everything feels real, proving the fact that anything can be documented when someone knows nothing. Alex knew nothing; his life was a black hole, filled by whatever his twin brother told him.
As the documentary progresses, it quickly surfaces that Marcus fed Alex lies about their childhood. Tell Me Who I Am slowly removes the layers of what happened to them, helplessly abused by someone who should have protected them, not hurt them. It’s an extremely dark, touching, yet personally invasive documentary that I was surprised was made. The bravery put on show is unprecedented in this type of medium; the intimacy shown by the twin brothers on camera was admirable to witness, but something I would prefer to forget.
Tell Me Who I Am is dark, but an honest piece of filmmaking. Act three reveals the absolute magnitude of what these twin brothers faced. It’s much worse than you imagine. What was telling throughout the feature is the willingness for Alex to understand his past, born from the emptiness of his memory, which ironically leads him to the truth. It fronts an ethical dilemma — should Marcus have built the memories the way he did? Or was his gift, to ensure his twin brother did not feel the same pain as he did, an act of true love? Or both?
Some documentaries require no rating to understand the sheer importance of the story. Netflix documentary Tell Me Who I Am is one of them. Ensure you watch it with a clear head, and as a warning, be readily prepared or make support available if you have suffered any forms of abuse yourself.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.