Although each episode opens with a title card declaring that it’s based on a true story, only the most basic set-up for Mexican Netflix series Triptych even comes close to actual events. It’s still an entertainingly twisty thriller, but viewers shouldn’t expect an examination of a real-life case. Instead, Triptych takes inspiration from the events depicted in 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers and spins them into a telenovela-influenced crime drama full of outlandish plot developments.
Like the identical triplets in Three Identical Strangers, who accidentally discovered each other as adults, police forensics investigator Becca Fuentes (Maite Perroni) gets a shock when she’s called to the scene of a hostage standoff and discovers that the perpetrator, business executive Aleida Trujano (also Perroni), seems to be her identical twin. After taking her psychiatrist Dr. Julia Batiz (Nuria Bages) captive, Aleida is shot by police and seemingly dies of her wounds after being transported to the hospital.
That doesn’t stop Becca from her quest for the truth, as she delves into Aleida’s background and business dealings with the reluctant help of her police colleague—and secret lover—Humberto (David Chocarro). Soon she discovers another identical sibling, brash exotic dancer Tamara (Perroni again), and each new revelation unravels more details about an elaborate conspiracy, possibly involving Aleida’s shifty husband Eugenio (Flavio Medina).
Over the course of eight episodes, Becca explores various explanations for the triplets’ origins, ranging from an impoverished mother desperate for cash to a secret Nazi cloning experiment. The investigation takes its toll on Becca, who’s a recovering alcoholic with a messy personal life, and Perroni makes her anguish feel genuine, even as the plot takes some ridiculous turns. Although Perroni plays three roles, Becca is clearly the main character, and her emotional arc holds the series together.
With its occasional references to cloning, Triptych also takes obvious inspiration from cult sci-fi series Orphan Black, which starred Tatiana Maslany as an ever-expanding group of clones. That series was a showcase for Maslany’s astonishing range as an actor, and while Perroni only plays three characters in Triptych, she similarly shows off her range.
Perroni gives Becca, Aleida, and Tamara distinctive and easily recognizable individual identities, even when one triplet is impersonating another. She’s often required to play both sides of an intense scene, and she expertly pulls off the balance between characters. Her performance alone makes Triptych a worthwhile viewing experience.
Triptych isn’t a big-budget series, but the effects are seamless when Perroni appears as multiple characters, and the directors often use rack focus to emphasize her dual onscreen presence. There are some chases and shootouts as the story progresses, but Triptych is mostly about heated interpersonal confrontations, reflecting its telenovela roots. Perroni and creator Leticia López Margalli previously worked together on steamy Netflix drama Dark Desire, and Triptych doesn’t hold back on the passionate love scenes.
That makes the show as much a soap opera as a crime thriller, and the two styles blend together fairly well, resulting in an enjoyably over-the-top ride all the way until the final showdown. The episodes are fast-paced and relatively short, and each one ends with a tantalizing cliffhanger that will keep viewers on the hook for the next installment. It’s no surprise that Triptych took its place in Netflix’s top 10 on its initial release, and it fits well with other addictive Netflix thrillers. It may not actually be a true story, but it’s still an engrossing tale.
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Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He’s the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and the former TV comedies guide for About.com. He has written about movies, TV, and pop culture for Vulture, Polygon, CBR, Inverse, Crooked Marquee, and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.