The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls Review

Film Still
  • The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls film still


This homespun documentary is initially diverting but ultimately fails to sustain interest.

Lesbian twins singing comedy protest songs about nuclear disarmament? Could you get any more 'trendy lefty' without opening your own hemp department store in Stoke Newington? The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls from director Leanne Pooley details the lives of Jools and Linda Topp, a pair of gay sisters from Huntley, New Zealand who yodel across the world with their country-influenced, politically-inflected comic songs. Mostly charming, humourous and humane, this homespun documentary is initially diverting but ultimately fails to sustain interest.

The Topp Twins are one of New Zealand’s favourite performing duos. It's easy to see why – their positive attitudes and rural upbringing embody the country's national cultural zeitgeist – think is US Midwest but populated entirely with Guardian readers. Continually in each other’s company, supporting each other in their successes and darkest moments, the film captures all elements of their professional and personal lives.

But be prepared for some earnest piety: there’s no celebrity lifestyle for these two, as they are still in touch with their farming roots. The film is interspersed with interviews from friends and fans you soon become caught up in the popularity of the twins and you’ll be fighting against the tide to not to find them endearing. Billy Bragg contributes a couple of interviews, providing insight into the twins' music which explores New Zealand’s nuclear disarmament policy. He quips, ‘Even Lesbians don’t like Bush' (who'd have guessed?).

The film trips along quite perkily through the ups and downs of their performing life. Though, ironically, its best moments arrive when it turns to pathos, such as its exploration of the twins' upbringing and Jools' diagnosis with breast cancer in 2006. However, despite its modest runtime of 84 minutes, the film drags due to a desperate attempt to cram in too much biography.

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