Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls


Why hasn't Australia heard of the Topp Twins? We're famous for nabbing New Zealand talent and claiming them for our own (think Russell Crowe, Crowded House's Neil Finn and Jane Campion), so how these charming sisters, their humour and their musical activism haven't crossed the pond boggles the mind. Fortunately Leanne Pooley's delightful documentary has, bringing the remarkable story of Jools and Lynda Topp to Australia's belated attention.

Structured around a self-styled This Is Your Life type evening, Jools and Lynda tell their tales and sing their songs to an audience of friends and family, many of whom are also interviewed. Learning about these lesbian, activist, yodelling farm girls is never dull, as their effusive energy and buoyant spirit captivates. Their music needn't even be to your taste to warm to their simple, funny songs and remark at just how much the pair has achieved. From gay rights, Maori Land Rights and nuclear disarmament, to (bravely!) storming a Springboks vs. All Blacks match to protest apartheid, these indefatigable Topps have managed to get their message heard while simultaneously establishing a place for themselves (and their alter egos) in Kiwi popular culture.

However at least a few Aussies are already clued in to the Topps. They toured with Midnight Oil (as well as Billy Brag and Split Enz), John Clarke (another poached Kiwi) affectionately calls them "two very very naughty girls," while there is little doubt Kath & Kim were influenced by the twins' small screen antics.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is the essence of a great documentary; an entertaining, rewarding and informative look at the fascinating lives of these two women. And as they were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2008, so too do they deserve success on the silver screen in 2009. It is a true delight to spend 84 minutes in Topp company.

Published on Concrete Playground.
Australian release date: 26 November 2009

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