Its plot revolves around police detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss). Usually based in Sydney, she is asked to travel to New Zealand to work on a case involving the disappearance of a pregnant 12 year old girl. Working with local detective Al Parker (David Wenham), she meets an array of interesting people. Among them are self-help guru GJ (Holly Hunter) and dangerous criminal Matt Mitcham (Peter Mullan). As the search continues, Griffin becomes entangled in their lives with sinister occurrences, murder and double-cross culminating in a shocking denouncement.
This 6-part series filmed in New Zealand continually grips. From its first frame it demands attention as its many intricate plots gradually blend. Having the ethereal ambiance of Twin Peaks and a dash of Northern Exposure-style realism, the mix of great plotting and superb acting produce first-rate viewing. None of this would have been possible without the finely written characters existing in their own world. The men, women and children all eke out their own piece of existence, often struggling to interact with each other. As their various secrets are revealed we come to understand what drives them.
Giving away anymore would be mean but what is undisputed is the amazing cinematography. The New Zealand land-scape looks truly magnificent with it often becoming its own character. The vast harshness of its wilderness mirrors that of the protagonists and looks stunning. Jane Campion’s direction on 3 of the episodes show what a sensitive and imaginative director she is. You genuinely care for the characters and the way she handles their many revelations bring much depth.
Top of the Lake is an engrossing piece of television and worthy of attention by lovers of expertly written mysteries.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 8
Released on Blu-ray and DVD on 28 August 2013