Review of “Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls”

True to form, the twins’ onstage retelling of their coming out is hilarious: Lynda tells the audience about meeting a group of gay women who dressed like them, and proclaimed to her twin: “they look like us. I think this means we must be lesbians.” They nod and laugh. “That’s pretty much how it went!”

Clad in flannel and jeans, the twins themselves come across as the most genuine, down-to-earth women on the planet – which is surely the key to their lasting appeal.

No matter what has gone on around them – from their carefree days to the more hair-raising business of facilitating protests and even a terrifying battle with cancer, one gets the impression that they haven’t changed a bit. It seems that not even mainstream success has taken away their genuine sense of fun and love of the simple life.

At several points, this comes up – a comedian friend and collaborator mentions that the twins have rejected more ambitious offers because they’d prefer to maintain complete control of their act. Lynda and Jools themselves seem uncomfortable with glitz and glamour, making fun of “agents” who offer to pick them up in limos and do fancy lunches. “That’s not how we were brought up, you know?” Lynda shrugs at the camera.

As another commentator asserts, the Twins’ act is incredibly subversive. For two gay women – neither of whom appears overly feminine – who often dress in drag and sing songs about queer rights (among other things) to be among the most popular, beloved entertainers in an entire nation, something must be going on.

Time and again, the film suggests that it’s the Topps’ sheer charm and goofy sense of fun that appeals to the masses. There is no air of falseness about them in anything that they do – even when dressing up as various characters; they still seem to be expressing themselves in a completely pure way. Their wacky antics simply translate well across demographics, a rarity in an increasingly niche-heavy entertainment world.

The most poignant scenes come later in the film, when Jools battles breast cancer. While the Topps can make absolutely anything funny (including falling asleep in a hospital chair after chemotherapy), it’s obvious how strong the bond between the twins is – and how terrifying the fight was for both women. It’s a wonderful, unexpectedly heavy segment that further endears the Topps to any viewer with a heart.

Aside from hitting all the right beats and giving us a comprehensive view of our leading ladies, Untouchable Girls is also an exceptionally well-made film, with fantastic production values. Each sequence was crafted expertly from what was surely a mountain of footage – and each present-day scene is rendered in crystal-clear video.

Better yet is the genuine feeling of intimacy imparted on the viewer. While it’s obviously impossible to actually “know” someone outside of personal contact, one leaves the theater with a real sense of the women behind the act. Small details like the twins’ love of horses and the way they met their partners really add to the picture, and even the goofiest interviews imbue a sense of personality.

Even if country music and yodeling isn’t your thing, Untouchable Girls is a well-made, enormously funny piece of filmmaking. It’s near on impossible to watch without falling for the twins’ infectious sense of fun, and even harder not to respect what Jools and Lynda have accomplished.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls screens Saturday, July 17 at Outfest. For more info, check out the official website of the film or the Topp Twins Facebook page.

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