I’ve read quite a few reviews saying that this second series of Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake is an unholy mess – characters are unlikeable, scenes are cringe-worthy and the male characters are all heinous brutes. But I really enjoyed the first two episode, which showcased an intriguing and very dark murder plot and some interesting character progression. In episode three however, things went off the rails in a big way.
There’s no doubt about it, Top Of The Lake: China Girl is an extraordinary examination of femininity and motherhood (more on that later), as well as a graphic and explicit indictment of the way men view and treat women, both in the workplace and in society as a whole. I’ve read some reviews of the first episode that stated that it was preposterously pretentious and yawnsome, but I just didn’t see that – I thought it was beautifully paced, often beautiful to look at, superbly and uniformly well performed, and featuring a story that was brimming with quirky, interesting characters and supreme darkness. Yes, Robin Griffin is the type of tortured female detective that we’ve seen a lot of in crime drama during the past five years, but I don’t mind watching another one go on her journey – as long as her reasons for being traumatised are believable and not just tacked on for effect, I’m fine with it because these are stories that still need to be told.
NB. Spoilers inside
We’ve had some heavyweight crime offerings this year – Broadchurch, Twin Peaks, Fargo et al – but perhaps the most eagerly awaited returning crime drama in this house is Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake, now subtitled China Girl for its second series. Series one was just utterly wonderful – a dream-like procedural the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Elisabeth Moss (who’s been doing some tremendous work recently) returns as Robin Griffin, the Australian detective, who has now returned to her home city, where the body of an Asian sex worker is waiting for her. Judging by this series opener, it’s great to have it back.
Saying Elisabeth Moss is doing good work at the moment is like saying chocolate is only quite nice. Since mad Men, Moss has starred in series one of Top The Lake – Jane Campion’s dream-like New Zealand-set crime drama – and, more recently, the astonishing and harrowing The Handmaid’s Tale. Now she’s back for series two of Top Of The Lake, subtitled China Girl, and it’s another fantastic piece of work. It starts this week, and we managed to get hold of an interview with Moss, which you can read after the jump.
This year has been a pretty big year when it comes to crime drama, not least because some of the heavy-hitters have returned to our screens. Unforgotten, Broadchurch, Twin Peaks, Fargo et al have all been very welcome, and now another big hitter, Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake is now back among us. The dreamy first series aired in 2013 – just before this site’s time – and surely would have won that year’s Crime Drama Of The Year. Now we know when the follow-up, Top Of The Lake: China Girl, is due to start.
Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake was a stunner. Set in the impossibly beautiful New Zealand wilderness it was the heart-rending story of a pregnant, 12-year-old girl who disappeared after trying to kill herself. Tasked with finding her was detective Robin Griffin (Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss), and along the way she came across some eccentric, sinister characters. It was a masterpiece, so when the news broke that it would be returning for a second series, I was thrilled. Now the BBC has released the second series’ first image, which you can see after the jump.