MEET THE FOKKENS (Gabrielle Provaas, Rob Schröder). 80 minutes. Subtitles. Opens Friday (December 14). See listing. Rating: NNN
This film about the 69-year-old twin Fokken sisters, sex workers for over 40 years in Amsterdam's red light district, is a rarity: a wholly balanced portrait of legalized prostitution, with fascinating characters.
In conversation, Martine and Louise joke, argue and reminisce about their lives.
Martine was forced to turn tricks by her husband. Years after Louise followed her into the trade - her husband liked the pimp role, too - the twins freed themselves and opened their own brothel, an unusual exercise in female empowerment.
But soon the Fokkens were pushed out of the business by the "sex bosses" - their term - and became just another pair of working girls advertising their wares in storefront windows along the strip.
Louise retired when she got arthritis, but Martine, a budding painter, continues to turn tricks. Some of these encounters are filmed by directors Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schröder in ways that emphasize the tedium. (I'm not saying why, but you'll probably never sing The Wheels On The Bus to a child again.) And the inevitable tracking shot of the district's prostitutes beckoning potential clients manages to avoid clichés.
Basically, this is a film that messes with assumptions, most notably the idea that sex work is for young women only. Elderly sex workers actually have a stable client base.
Essential viewing for those looking for authentic representations of a misrepresented profession.