The Reel Review
Rainman Twins is a 2008 documentary about the world’s only known identical twin autistic savant sisters – Flo and Kay Lyman. The program examines their extraordinary ability to recall immediately, detailed facts about songs as well as events of any given date – its corresponding day of the week, what they ate that day, even the weather. It also explores their undying love for their longtime friend, TV icon Dick Clark (who died in 2012).
Director Dave Wagner, a TV newscaster who has known the twin sisters for decades, blends archival footage and interviews with the twins, their friends and family members to explore not only their incredible abilities, but their personal tragedies and the challenging, computer-like regimentation they seek to maintain calm in their daily lives.
Despite a somewhat corny title (an effective nod to the 1988 Dustin Hoffman film Rain Man), a couple of pointless interviews and some now-dated production techniques, Wagner’s heartwarming 50 minute portrait of the extremely likable twin sisters still packs quite an emotional punch. You’ll be glad you saw this one.
• Rainman Twins initially was part of a limited series Extraordinary People on The Discovery Channel.
• Calendrical savants, those who possess a photographic memory of details from every day of their lives, are the most common types of savants. Savant skills are usually found in one of five areas: art, memory, math, musical ability and spatial skills (the ability to mentally manipulate two and three dimensional figures). Nearly half of savants are autistic. The other half often have some form of central nervous system injury or disease.
• Rainman Twins director Dave Wagner, who has anchored the news in Charlotte, Tampa, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Lexington, Kentucky, currently lives in Seattle, where he is an anchor and investigative reporter at KIRO 7.