At DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2010, The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
This touching, often hilarious portrait of the lives of the irrepressible New Zealand musical, comedy duo known as The Topp Twins, is surely worth the hype. Having won several awards around the globe since its opening in November of 2009, it is also one of the highest grossing documentary films ever made. Unbelievably enough I had never even heard of this riotous act before seeing the film and I have to say, I feel a little cheated that it took me this long to discover them.
A National treasure in New Zealand, the sisters, Jools and Lynda, combine their country roots and political activism to create musical performances worthy of side-splitting laughter. Performing together for over 25 years, the twins transform into a few bonkers characters based on fellow Kiwis, alter-egos including “Ken and Ken” and the infamous “Camp Mother and Camp Leader”, ridiculous, beyond funny and totally arresting.
Director Leane Pooley has done a beautiful job in creating a film that showcases the history of the Topp Twins ascent, including their “coming-out” as lesbians and Jools Topp’s painful triumph over breast cancer. Pooley utilizes vintage footage of the twins as teenagers on the family farm, busking on the streets, combined with photos of the girls locked arm in arm at political demonstrations, providing the audience with an intimately greater understanding of the origins of the twins, in particular that “…It’s not a career, it’s a lifestyle”. Interviews with friends and family, particularly with Jools and Lynda’s parents, Jean and Peter Topp, reveal the true nature of the Topp Twins as just “a couple of country girls” whose down-to-earth personalities and insistence to have fun no matter what is that which audiences are most attracted to. This magnetic film is unabashedly fun and truly affecting.
*As this was a sold out DOXA presentation, there may be a repeat screening on Sunday, May 16th. Be sure to check out www.doxafestival.ca for more details.