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Most people, when faced with the prospect of seeing a film that features an entertainment act billed as yodelling lesbian twins, might have some reservations. I understand. I’m not a huge fan of country and western music either. But don’t let any of the labels used to describe them (country and western, political activists, comediennes) keep you from seeing the highly enjoyable film about them: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls. Playing this Saturday evening as part of the Inside Out Film Festival, it is well worth the price of admission.

The Topp Twins are a couple of entertainers from New Zealand who are almost impossible to pidgeon-hole. They sing and they dance; they’ve created comic character sketches; they tell jokes. The twins seems not to like labels very much either, and bill themselves as “singers that are funny”. They have created characters that poke fun at everyone from rural farmers and sports fans to camp matrons and society ladies. No one is safe from their satirical wit – and even more importantly, no one seems to ever take offense. It is an amazing talent to be able to laugh with and not at your audience. It comes from not taking yourself too seriously.

Full of interviews and old footage from their younger days, the film does a great job of showing where Lynda and Jools Topp come from, a farm in rural New Zealand. It helps audiences who aren’t familiar with the Topp Twins to see the development of their act, and evolution of their characters. Clearly women with a social and political consciousness, they were (and are) active in many of the country’s divisive issues, from gay and lesbian rights to nuclear disarmament and Maori land rights.

Director (Canadian-born) Leanne Pooley has done a fantastic job of weaving old footage and photos of the talented duo with interviews. The documentary is well-crafted and full of fun (kind of like the Twins’ act). They appear so unassuming, and then bowl you over with their irrepressible humour and force of personality within the first 5 minutes of the film. They are difficult to resist. Topp Twins is a very good time, and a wonderful portrait of two entertaining women at the top of their game.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls screens on Saturday May 22nd at 7:30pm at the Royal Ontario Museum. Please see the Inside Out Film Festival schedule for all the details. You can watch the trailer here.

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