For most women, particularly here in the states, age isn’t a welcome entity. Bombarded daily by images of young, skinny, buxom women throughout pop culture, aging has become the word that shall not be proclaimed in the world of modern-day pop culture.
And then there are Louise and Martine Fokken. Two 69-year-old twins living in Amsterdam’s red light district, the Fokken sisters have become known worldwide as two people who stick their collective middle fingers up at not only the world but aging as well, by not only being okay with their past as prostitutes with over 50 years of experience, but for Martine, it’s still a job to this day.
Now, it’s their time to tell their story. Thanks to directors Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schroder, the pair are the focus of a new documentary, entitled Meet The Fokkens, and while there are sequences showing Martine at work, she and her sister prove to not only be funny, rambunctious and charming women, but also far deeper than anyone could have ever imagined.
As the focus of the documentary, the film sinks or swims with the two sisters, and thankfully, they are as lively and spry as any documentary centerpieces since Grey Gardens. Both Martine and Louise, this life is one that had been chosen by them, but one that they still to this day finds them wrestling with. At the film’s very best, it gives the viewer a breathtaking and heartbreaking look into these two women, their lives, and how the trouble and poverty that they found themselves in during their youth forced them to take drastic steps directly into this life. Near the film’s conclusion, the viewer is confronted with a beautifully affecting confrontation between mother and daughter, and in that moment, the regret, melancholy and sadness that is so palpable underneath the rambunctious surface that are the twins that are this film’s focus.
That said, the film is also brazen and utterly charming. Both Louise and Martine are outgoing, completely comfortable with their spot in life, and for the still working Martine, feels as lively as ever, making for a really enjoyable comedy of a documentary. From talking sex on a beach while being stared at in their quite revealing swim wear to looking at sex toys and discussing the endless possibilities they see within them, the pair are as blunt and colorful as they ever have been, and the tonal mix between these moments of levity and the moving moments of melancholy is easily this film’s strongest suite.
Visually, the film isn’t attempting to do much. Very much your standard documentary, Meet The Fokkens isn’t as inspired as many documentaries you’ll find this year, but what it does do is give this rather shockingly emotional look into these women and their lives the right amount of breathing room to stick with you long after the viewing.
Overall, while it’s not as visually entertaining as something like an Errol Morris film, or as maddeningly obtuse and intellectually combative as a Werner Herzog film, Meet The Fokkens is a beautifully crafted and toned look at two women, and their brazen disregard for the social norms that are found within this era. Highly enjoyable and shockingly moving, this is easily one of the more entertaining and digestible documentaries you’ll see all year.