The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls Leanne Pooley

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls Leanne Pooley
Yodelling lesbian twin sisters Lynda and Jools Topp have kind of a bland folk/country sound that's like a peppier, less melodic version of the Indigo Girls, with clumsier political themes. They're known more for their on-stage comedy routines, dressing up as a variety of characters and interacting with the audience in their native New Zealand, having had a variety show in the early '90s that ran for a few seasons and made their cross-dressing "Ken and Ken" farmer personas popular provincially.

Because they're so closely tied to New Zealand geographically, Leanne Pooley's hagiographic documentary draws its themes and trajectory from the twins' political ties, linking them to various protests and movements for women's rights, gay rights, housing issues and nuclear debates throughout their career, positing them as ersatz saints. Think of it as a protracted Wikipedia entry, only with the occasional musical performance and overly venerating interview that gives a vague impression rather than an insightful, balanced view.

Amidst the array of talking heads, such as artistic collaborators, socialites and family members, the interviews that stand out are with the Topp Twins' parents, who discuss having two lesbian daughters and one gay son, noting the lack of grandchildren. It's one of the few honest moments of the doc when no one is reiterating how the Topp's alter-ego archetypes embrace difference rather than mock it. There are some hints at humanity sprinkled throughout, such as a fleeting comment about how intensely Lynda and Jools fight, but these infrequent moments always cut away to yet another musical performance or home movie from the '80s.

For those interested in a fluffy, uplifting information piece on a different breed of lesbian pioneer, this may very well be the ideal pleasant diversion. But anyone looking to watch a thoughtful, investigative documentary will surely be disappointed with this flimsy, superficial puff piece. (Kinosmith)