Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls: Movie Review

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls: Movie Review

Rating 7/10
Cast: Jools Topp, Lynda Topp, John Clarke, Helen Clark, Don McGlashan
Director: Leanne Pooley
"On paper, it shouldn't work"
Early on in Leanne Pooley's documentary those very words are uttered by a comedy writer about the two Kiwi icons.
And it's easy to see what exactly he means - Jools and Lynda Topp have become a bastion of Kiwiana, icons in their own lifetime.
But if you were to analyse exactly why that was, you'd pretty much expect the yodeling twins with their affinity for country and western, characters and political activism just wouldn't add up.
However, over 85 minutes, it soon becomes clear why the Topp Twins as an act does work - as well as just how much they've infiltrated the New Zealand way of life.
Ostensibly, this is supposed to be a documentary about Jools and Lynda, but it's really a snapshot of the New Zealand way of life during the last 50 years or so as the doco demonstrates just how steeped in the zeitgeist the twins have become.
Against the backdrop of Waikato dairy farming, we see the montage of the twins' lives before being introduced to some of their many characters - Camp Mother and Camp Leader, Ken and Ken, The Bowling Ladies and The Posh Socialites.
What's good about this is the way it simply slips into the pair's characters and morphs them back in - some of the anecdotes about how they've been taken into people's lives are just priceless - particularly the one involving Ken and the lapdancers.
Essentially the film doesn't really become about the two of them until very near the end when we see Jools' fight against breast cancer.
It's here we see the real love the Twins have for each other - and how devastated they'd be if anything happened to either of them.
Director Leanne Pooley's handling of these darkest moments of the Topp Twins' lives isn't mawkish or intrusive - and it shows just how low people can get when fighting this cancer.
Through the rest of the film, it's interesting to observe to what effect the duo have permeated our everyday lives and how at key moments in the country's history (Bastion Point, the Springboks tour) they've been involved in some form or other.

And that's The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls' greatest triumph - the narrative weaves the Twins' lives with major social events - and effortlessly shows how these icons have become a Kiwi heritage property.

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