Meet the Fokkens

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Louise and Martine Fokkens, the subjects of Meet the Fokkens

Should you ever wonder what the word spitfire means, look no further than Martine and Louise Fokken. These Rubenesque, ruddy-cheeked blonds are pushing 70 but still laugh loudly and talk straight as the affable twin matriarchs of Amsterdam’s red-light district. Louise recently retired because of arthritis; Martine, however, still turns tricks, flagging down men from behind a store window and sporting dominatrix duds, such as full-body lace and patent leather. Though they’ve encountered their share of hardships—abusive husbands, societal scorn, the sheer labor of entertaining upwards of ten clients per day for almost half a century—the sisters wear their accumulated experiences remarkably well.

This gentle documentary portrait goes down easily—almost too easily. (Kudos to the Fokkens for being so good-natured, but their prostitution still stems from troubling economic need). Yet softening a few edges ultimately allows filmmakers Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schröder to normalize lives that could easily have been exploited for self-righteous judgment or mockery. Truthfully, watching septuagenarian whores spank mildly titillated johns and test-drive sex toys has never seemed so ho-hum—or so oddly familiar. If there’s a tug of sadness to this (off-)colorful tale, it has less to do with sympathy for these resilient women than with how easily their compromised lives can be related to our own.

Follow Eric Hynes on Twitter: @eshynes

Release details

Release date: Wednesday August 8 2012
Duration: 80 mins

Cast and crew

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