Sunday, July 27, 2014

NEW REVIEW: Top of the Lake

Beautifully filmed, highly atmospheric, haunting, disturbing, curious and compelling, Jane Campion's Top of the Lake is perhaps the series Twin Peaks could have been had it not gone too far down the loony-track.

This Sundance mini-series, now available on Netflix, is a tight seven episodes long, and that is actually one of my only criticisms. It felt a tad bit rushed in the last two episodes and I think that it would have been even more impactful if they had allowed things to develop at a bit slower rate. The material was certainly there to do it.

The story centers around a remote New Zealand lake community, a missing pregnant twelve year old, her vicious and violent father, her adult half-siblings, and the police detective who comes home to the lake and takes on the case.

Elisabeth Moss, well-known for Mad Men, does a phenomenal job here as Detective Robin Griffin. Hers is a character of deeply felt emotion and a dark and tragic history of her own which binds her to Tui, the missing child. She has scenes of tremendous pathos, rage and passion and each of these feels full of authenticity and palpable pain. Her performance is complemented by a strong cast and an intense, if not completely original, storyline.

I love haunting and mysterious stories and I am a biased in that respect, but I do think this series is a home-run. It is riveting. I burst out in an unexpected sob at one point, not even aware of how much the event in question would affect me. I could easily re-watch the series, which is always telling.

I am amazed at how much great storytelling and acting there is available on the small screen. Something absolutely better occurs with the ability to watch episodes in succession, as well as with the trend toward a complete story arc rather than the rambling, stretching-out, and tacking-on endless chunks of disjointed plotline that too often occurs in an effort to prolong a series run.

There's a lot to see out there. Let's get crackin'.

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