User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 107 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 83 out of 107
  2. Negative: 14 out of 107

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  1. Mar 26, 2013
    1
    Having watched the first two episodes of this series, I am astonished at the general positivity of the reviews it has received. I can only speculate that the characters and plot look more credible from afar than they do for anyone who has any familiarity with New Zealand as a place and the people who inhabit it. It's obvious (or at least I hope that is the case) that Jane Campion is aiming for some kind of pastiche of Twin Peaks, with a bit of Mad Max and The Killing thrown in for good measure. Yes, it really is that horribly confused. So much so that much of the time it's impossible to tell what is supposed to be funny and what is supposed to be serious. Elizabeth Moss' attempt at an Australian accent is awful and distracting and the vast array of mystifying characters that surround her only add to the sense of displacement. Holly Hunter is (for fans of Portlandia) like the store owner from 'Women and Women First', while the angry Scottish/Kiwi father figure and his three dopey sons appear to have been conjured out of a high school screenwriting project; they are all at once gross stereotypes and completely unrecognizable as 'real'. If this series is supposed to speak to New Zealand landscape and society (and I think it is), it fails dismally and it would be sad to see it taken seriously on that front. Excruciating viewing. Expand
  2. Apr 16, 2013
    3
    This plot simply has no credibility! It is full of holes. Would a young girl who had been raped be immediately released into the custody of her father and brothers who are suspects in her rape? Not Likely. Would the New Zealand Police allow a junior Australian police officer who happened to be on holiday in the area to lead the team investigating a potential murder case? Highly Unlikely! Are there places where a load of abused women who hate men live in communal shipping containers? Highly unlikely! are here really places where all of the men are rapists, crooks and vile? Not likely! Will this pretentious dross improve or will the ending be plausible? highly unlikely! I suppose this is art as Jane Campion is involved but the only redeeming feature of the whole sad show is the stunning scenery. Expand
  3. Apr 30, 2013
    3
    Mediocre, no wait, it was slightly below mediocre. What it lacks is a good story line, the plot is just so painfully obvious; Detective goes back to her home town to solve a case (sound familiar?), the town is small and quiet, ruled over by a rural gangster who controls pretty much everything which leaves our detective wondering who to trust (sound familiar?), during the course of the investigation our detective
    discovers truths about her own dark past (if it doesn't sound familiar
    to you by now, you really haven't been watching much TV/films over the
    last 20 years). The plot twists (if they can be called that) are just
    as obvious, I figured out who the bad guy was half way through this and
    then just sat around waiting for her to figure it out.....which was
    sort of dull.

    Apart from being a bad story, it's also badly told. A lot of the times
    you are left confused over who these people are and what exactly their
    relations are with each other. So when something actually happens to
    them you don't really find yourself caring much about it. Speaking of
    characters I almost feel like I have to mention the women on the lake
    top; a bizarre collection of horny, middle-aged women who follow some
    guru like figure who gives them bashful, plaintive advice. The entire
    thing is so stupid that you're just left there gaping at the screen
    thinking "what the Hell?"

    The acting is okay, nothing to boast or complain about that.

    To sum up, for a suspense/thriller there is really little actual
    suspense or excitement, just the plaintive progression of a plaintive
    storyline. The only possible reason you might have to watch this show
    is to see the stunning beautiful New Zealand landscape.
    Expand
  4. Jul 21, 2013
    2
    Absolutely ludicrous plot. A bunch of scenes designed for sensational effect. I. e. the chimpanzee story --shameless exploitation of a tragedy, not even an attempt to fictionalize.
    I'd recommend BBC's Luther or Prime Suspect way above this for acting, action, drama, believable multidimensional characters you can care about.
    Moss's accent came & went & was awful. Didn't she ever watch
    Flight of the Conchords to pick up pointers?
    Unbelievable critics fell for this horsedoodle and gave it 100--how'd that happen?
    Collapse
  5. Apr 3, 2013
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Being a fan of New Zealand I thought I'd give this series a chance. Then Elizabeth Moss shows up with an okay accent. She's an excellent actress,but how about a kiwi? It worked well for Spartacus. Next, the episode meanders along, okay I can handle that. After a while I notice that EVERY man is a straw man/cypher. They are all bad, stupid, evil, and ones not showed but implied are rapists and/or pedophiles. Hummmm, this is begining to sound familiar. As I look more closely at the guru I go "Is that Holly Hunter sure enough it is. I must have missed the credit of Jane Campion. On episode two I see, yep its her. Fine, if you like quirky, visually interesting TV ,this show has it and she uses her NZ landscape well. But after a while I grew tired of the fact that ALL the men are crap, despite an excellent performance by Peter Mullan. Jane, you can make your point, but in the real world not all men Yeah, I know many are right bastards, but not all.) are evil monsters who wish to rape, kill, sodomize or genrally treat women in a horrible way. I suggest a little counseling for your apparent hatred for all things male. Jeez, you really hate us don't you? This really detracts from what promised to be an interesting show. Sign me had enough of this. Expand
  6. Feb 3, 2014
    4
    Jane Campion is a champion of the weird and freakish. It was therefore with trepidation that I followed this mini-series. Turns out, my apprehension was well founded. In a nutshell, Robin is back to her New Zealand hometown of Laketop to visit her sick mother. She is coming from Australia, where she moved and became a cop of some sort.

    The local police get in touch with her when Tui,
    a 12 yo girl turns up at the station, suicidal and pregnant. This is just the beginning of the most bizarre investigative procedure I have seen on screen. Tui is interrogated by Robin (a “specialist” in dealing with kids). Despite the unpleasantness of the situation nothing much comes out of her mouth (was it rape? was it something even more sinister?) Whatever it was, during her interrogation, Tui manages to look merely annoyed, rather than scared or shocked.

    Completing the female cast is a bunch of women camping on the lake shore and “guided” by GJ – one of the most obnoxious characters ever. Tui goes visiting their camp, then she goes missing and everybody in creepy Laketop gets involved to find her (or what remains of her body). During the very loose and badly coordinated search, we get to know all of Robin’s dark secrets.

    If the female cast is unpleasant more grief comes from the male side. We have Matt, the local bad guy, involved in criminal activities and apparently father of almost every youngster in Laketop. He is also Tui’s father, although their relationship is left mostly unexplored. Then we have Al, the lieutenant, too creepy for words. Potential (and actual) rapists/misogynists fill the local bar, together with Johnno, yet another of Matt’s offspring (or maybe not) who could (or not) be the only good guy around. But he also has his share of quirky behaviors, such as sleeping in a tent, for reasons I could not quite grasps.

    The denouement of the whole plot turns out as one of the most anti-climactic ever. Somebody gets shot, Robin discover a dark plot (of the type already explored and exploited much better in Twin Peaks), Tui goes back to normal life, still managing to look supremely bored and completely detached from all the tragedy around her. The end.

    Not a single character in the series was likeable or engaging, although I suppose main character Robin was meant to elicit some sympathy. The biggest let down was Tui, who played her character either catatonic or bored. Also extremely puzzling the GJ character. I just cannot figure why anybody would follow such a rude person to the end of the world, thinking she has a “teaching” or enlightenment of any sort to impart.
    Expand
  7. Jun 11, 2013
    1
    Apparently this was an interesting series. I only saw 2 full shows. The last two shows were scheduled together on a Monday night. And, as far as I can tell, never scheduled again. At best I saw a third of the series. Still see ads saying how wonderful it all was. Not if it is never shown, Did Y'all cave in to right wing complaints? Link's Borgan is the only other series really worth watching. I should pay the BBC how much to buy Top of the Lake? What happened? Expand
  8. May 10, 2014
    1
    wow.. I don't know where to begin. The plot and characters were so contrived and manipulative in that tired, dated, man-hating mode, I'm shocked that it received positive reviews at all. Kindof a scary commentary on
    the level of blind hostility, and absurd characature people are willing to swallow. Jane Campion should be
    ashamed of proliferating such sub-standard and revolting propaganda.
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Jace Lacob
    May 30, 2013
    90
    Numerous story strands--Robin’s dark past, the venomous Mitcham and his ne’er-do-well sons, a New Age women’s camp run by the mysterious guru GJ (Holly Hunter)--all coalesce into a taut and provocative thriller about damage, vengeance, and escape.
  2. Reviewed by: Jeanne Jakle
    May 29, 2013
    80
    The miniseries is full of striking characters, some brutish and scary, others vulnerable with painful secrets.
  3. 100
    A triumph of writing, directing, and acting.