If k.d. lang never left her funny, feisty cowgirl phase — and there were two of her — she'd resemble Jools and Lynda Topp, an irrepressible pair of yodeling New Zealand folk singers who happen to be openly gay twin sisters. A tame, conventional documentary, The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls makes a great introduction to the sibling charmers.
Director Leanne Pooley cuts between a recent Topp Twins performance for friends and family with biographical clips, beginning with their childhood in rural New Zealand. (Is there any other kind? Boom!) They become buskers, come out to their nonplussed parents, and over a 30-year career go from cult hit to national treasure status. They harmonize their spirited songs and perform as their various comedic characters, such as posh socialites Prue and Dilly or swaggering male farmers Ken and Ken. It would've been nice if Topp Twins gave all of their creations more screen time, so non-Kiwis could appreciate some of the country-specific jokes.
With ingratiating smiles and a bantering manner, the twins prove so likeable you'll scarcely notice the film has almost no friction. Topp Twins touches on their political activism, including apartheid protests and fights for Maori land rights, but doesn't dig deeply into politics. One colleague mentions that they wage epic fights, a detail that goes unexplored. Topp Twins takes a more engrossing turn when one of the sisters battles cancer. Even if you find Topp Twins to be a thin narrative, you'll still be pleased to meet them.
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