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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 11 August 2013
This series showcases some superb writing and acting. There isn't much on TV that is as well thought out and subtle as this. It's not only a personal drama, or a police story, or a mystery, or a thriller, but it contains strong elements of all of these. For me this is a bonus but if you are only looking for one of these maybe this is not the box set for you.

There are three main strands of plot: the mystery involving the disappearance of pregnant 12 year old Tui, the personal life of detective Robin Griffin (Elizabeth Moss), and the social "shape" and history of the small town in New Zealand, which includes some very insular, inward looking locals and a community of self-healing women, led by "guru" GJ (Holly Hunter).

I like the way almost all the main characters have ambiguity to them. Lead police office Al colludes with the locals, but has his own beliefs in justice. Robin's childhood sweetheart Johnno struggles with what he sees as his own weaknesses, even as he is blind to the incredible escape he has made from the forces that have dragged down the rest of his family. Even the "good" heroine Robin succumbs unwisely to anger, but this is done in such a way that you totally understand the way her frustrations have got the better of her.

If you let it, the interaction between the characters will really move you. There are uplifting moments where characters realise things about themselves and act on these revelations. There are tension moments full of threat. And although there are occasional "thrill" moments, involving chases, if that's all you are looking for, well, it's not just about that. It's the combination of these things together that makes this so special.

More reviews on Top of the Lake at [...]
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on 19 August 2013
This is a fantastic program that is both believable and very frightening. The cast all play well and I think the Elizabeth Moss from mad men has done well to break away from any kind of type casting and gone for a completely different and complicated character role. She is clearly a tremendous actress and Im sure we will she much much more of her. It is hard to write about this without spoiling it. it is not an easy ride by any stretch. But makes for great viewing.
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I started watching 'Top of the Lake' because I am a fan of Elizabeth Moss. Her role in this film is terrific, in fact it s so good, she should be nominated for an Emmy. From the first confusing episode to the day, I was hooked! This is one of the better mini-series I have seen,

'Top of the Lake ' is a seven-hour miniseries from filmmaker Jane Campion. Elisabeth Moss is a troubled Sydney cop investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old in her small New Zealand hometown. This is a crime series concerned with heartbreak. Moss's detective Robin Griffin is investigating the disappearance of Tui. Her father is Matt Mitcham, played by Peter Mullan, a Scotsman introduced as a villain. He is a drug taker, maker and rounder and owns the town.

There's a lake where the mountains should be, and green, green grass. Everything is topsy-turvy: An unborn baby is called a "time bomb," a gentle elder-care companion puts his fist through a wall. And around the investigation is a group of scarred women camped out on land called Paradise. Holly Hunter's GJ, gives advice, sips soup and drops truth bombs.

This is a police procedural like no other. The only ethical investigator, it seems is Elizabeth Moss's character. All is not what it seems, and the finale will leave you surprised.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 05-27-13
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i thought this was just a very bizarre drama and I can see why it captivated many. Atmospherically filmed, with the landscape as one of its main stars but.... Reviews are so idiosyncratic and personal: it is certainly not my intervention to offend those who enjoyed it. Yet to me it seemed so implausible, all the characters so unlikable. I cannot believe in the representation of the various but repetitive masculines here nor indeed of the women. the refuge, the apparent spiritual insights - it was a slow beautifully filmed cliche which shows Kiwi societies as marginal, bestial and dysfunctional. i appreciate the concept of good guys with flaws, and bad guys with inner virtues, but this production just drowned in its own pretension:
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on 31 August 2014
A very tense thriller with interlinking backstories set in the gorgeous and beautifully shot New Zealand landscape, which is a character in itself.Robin is a detective who is trying to find a pregnant young girl(Tui), and in the process finding her past( I won't reveal it) interlinked with current events.This small, isolated community is ruled and governed by Peter Mullen(always good to watch),and the hidden but all knowing shenanigans reveal a deeply disturbing insular community, seemingly powerless to do anything.
This series is a slow burner that draws you in to the characters, from the almost enigmatic G.J(Holly Hunter-a hippy like mystic), to Robins disturbing past, to the dangerous and frightening events in the life of the innocent Tui, and indeed the children of the community caught up in a circle of abuse.
You guess after about 3 episodes who the real mover and shaker is but this does not stop you watching this compulsive noir ish police procedural drama.Well written, acted and gorgeously filmed show really delivers.
A good 50 min bonus Doc on the writing and development of the show as well as a couple of mini interviews make this a really nice package, and certainly does not warrant the negative reviews some seem to be giving it.
Some disturbing scenes and nudity feature.
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on 2 May 2014
The setting is stunning, but behind the beauty of the scenery, dark things are going on. Very gripping right from the start and the female detective is great - one wonders what her interest in the missing young girl is all about, and as the story unfolds, the viewer is in for some shocks. Edge of your chair stuff, but in a quiet, subtle sort of way.
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on 5 December 2015
Reasonably good story, stretched out to include gratuitous sex scenes and the introduction of a group of people who seem to add absolutely nothing to the plot. Not worth buying, but if you have a chance to watch it, just watch the first and last show - most of the stuff in between is padding.
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on 26 August 2015
Not as good as I had hoped, but an interesting watch. Lots of fantastic scenery shots, I was drawn into the story-line of the missing child and was interested to see what happened to her. A few to many larger than life characters, but it is a TV drama, not a documentary. I liked that it was character driven rather than lots of chases and shootings. A good effort at what I call novelistic TV drama. Glad I watched it, and I enjoyed it,but wouldn't watch it again. One to pass onto friends or the charity shop after watching to put copies into circulation.
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on 9 December 2013
I gave it top rating based on my personal taste for this unusual and exotic crime drama. Not just the exotic and revealing look at the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand, but to get this unusual take on life. For those who live a sheltered life, I doubt this series is for you. On the other hand, the drama is for those with open minds and a desire for the out of the ordinary. Top of The Lake is best watched with subtitles on. Not just because of the NZ accent, which I can clearly understand, but the sound track does seem a bit weak and at times hard to follow. That is the only negative I found in the series.
The drama unfolds on many layers, and many minor mysteries that are exposed do not get resolved, you are always left wondering what some relationships really are. This series is also very centered on women's experience of the backwoods isolated man's world of rural South Island New Zealand. The struggle of the locals to make a living drives much of the underlying crime. The ability of isolated police districts to become corrupt and to run to their own tune is also exposed.
Not to give anything away, just accept that people are a bit rough on the edges in this series, and let the mysteries unfold while much social commentary is worked into the episodes.
If you have an open mind and enjoy seeing life from different and rare angles, this series meets that standard to perfection. Best to watch it twice and absorb ALL the little sub plots.
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on 1 December 2013
Where to begin. Well, the assertion that Tui is entering the lake to take her own life may well be wrong (I won't spoil it by stating the alternate reason) and is really not borne out by her subsequent grit and doggedness. Filmed principally around Glenorchy (Lake Top in the programme) it shows off the scenery to stunning and repetitive effect, leading me to the conclusion it might well have been substantially funded by Tourism New Zealand. These scenes along with many others (Jono and Robin getting their gear off overly often, Robin exiting vehicles in the middle of nowhere to walk home etc.) were for the most part seemingly used to stretch the production. For me it was around 25% or 90 minutes too long.
That it was a multi-national production showed glaringly. I cringed for poor Holly Hunter (a fine actor) every time she appeared so dreadfully was her character written. David Wenham mumbled through the entire production and was just so listless as a character. As a voyage of self-discovery for our heroine it was satisfactory, but at the cost of repeatedly overlooking the dramatic thread (i.e. the search for Tui). And then we have those oh-so-predictable and woeful Kiwi blokes represented as a kind of soft-core "Once Were Warriors" crew. Others have said it suffers from drawing it's cast from near and far. I agree completely. Only Robyn Malcolm looked vaguely at home. Peter Mullan is another fine actor doing the best he could with his badly drawn character (one amongst so many). Too many loose ends and a denouement that was too hurried (ironical given the snail's pace of the first five and a half hours). Supposedly located in a smallish community (where it might be arguably credible that Mullan's character would be so influential) and yet we have Det Sgt Al living in a Queenstown mansion, supposedly in the same community. Maybe of no matter to non-NZ audiences but irritating to this Kiwi.
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