Meet the Fokkens opens tonight at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Meet the Fokkens plays as a lengthy conversation between two grandmothers, with the salacious exception that these two ladies have a lot of sultry discussions. The questionably titled — yet interesting, and occasionally startling — documentary follows Louise and Martine Fokkens, 70-year-old identical twins who have spent much of their lives working in the red light district of Amsterdam. It opens tonight at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
We meet the two ladies at a pivotal point in their lives. Louise is looking to retire from the business, while Martine carries on: it’s the only thing she knows how to do in life. The stories they tell — about past liaisons and experiences, escaping from pimps and running their own brothel — are fascinating, if they are true to memory.
The women are compelling figures. Old age is a problematic issue in an industry starring the young and beautiful, but these women are defiant. They stroll hand-in-hand down the streets of Amsterdam in matching outfits, chatting with their neighbours and shopping for the latest in sex paraphernalia.
The most entertaining parts of the film are the simplest: the two women chatting casually, as if the cameras aren’t pointed at them; reminiscing, bickering and making fun, just like the closest of sisters. This is a take on the world of prostitution that isn’t explored all that often — it’s more illuminating than investigatory.
As a Dutch film, a bit is lost in translation, though it’s still insightful and funny. It may be unnerving to some, as we see Martine tending to clients in scenes that are graphic, but the scenes are humanizing, too.
Underlying the casual discussions about sex and toys and techniques and desires is the saddening and all too universal realization that at some point you will not be doing what you have been doing for your whole life. Change is hard, regardless of your career, and we are confronted with that here, against the backdrop of prostitution in Amsterdam.
Meet the Fokkens, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 416-637-3123. Now - Jan. 6