Top Of The Lake Image
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87

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 119 Ratings

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  • Starring: Elisabeth Moss, David Wenham
  • Summary: Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) returns to New Zealand to visit her sick mother only to be drawn into the investigation of the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old (Jacqueline Joe).
  • Genre(s): Drama
  • Creator: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
  • Show Type: Mini-Series
  • Season 1 premiere date: Mar 18, 2013
  • Episode Length: 60
  • Air Time: 12:00 AM
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Mar 15, 2013
    100
    This haunting New Zealand miniseries boasts a strong, tense performance from Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss as a detective, but it's very much the work of director Jane Campion. [25 Mar 2013, p.44]
  2. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    Mar 18, 2013
    100
    This six-part series is so layered and unexpected that nothing follows a tried-and-true formula.... This is great TV.
  3. 100
    A triumph of writing, directing, and acting.
  4. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Mar 18, 2013
    90
    Creepy and cockeyed, unholy and unnerving, Top Of The Lake is riveting stuff.
  5. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Mar 18, 2013
    80
    Top of the Lake doesn’t fully get rolling for a while. Happily, Moss doesn’t let us become disinterested.
  6. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Mar 18, 2013
    80
    It’s mainly an intelligent crime drama, and a real step forward for Sundance, which is bringing more original programming to its slate. As slow as it seems to go at first, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’re addicted.
  7. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Mar 18, 2013
    50
    Most of the elaborately introduced plotlines fizzle out (or simply vanish), and the final surprise is the worst kind of twist ending, arrived at arbitrarily and seemingly presented for its shock value.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 24
  2. Negative: 8 out of 24
  1. Apr 11, 2013
    10
    Directing, acting scenery are working together perfectly to create a realistic drama. I really enjoyed the first 4 episodes and i am lookingDirecting, acting scenery are working together perfectly to create a realistic drama. I really enjoyed the first 4 episodes and i am looking forward for next ones to come! Expand
  2. Jun 13, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Top of the Lake is a unique and captivating mini-series that offers great writing, acting and direction, and a fantastic setting. At first glance a crime drama, it defies genre conventions, but the tip of the hat to the horror genre in the opening sequence and music is not to be ignored.

    Make no mistake; Top of the Lake is about New Zealand. Any local will tell you that New Zealand is Paradise; Top of the Lake tells us about the dark side of that paradise. Yes, there is an Appalachian (for example) version of this story but this is a distinctly New Zealand story.

    Top of the Lake is a portrayal of New Zealand culture and its problems as few other films or series have done. “Once Were Warriors” is a notable exception, and it is no coincidence that that film also deals with issues of misogyny, violence, rape, teen suicide, child abuse and child molestation.

    There is a lot of feminism in Top of the Lake, but it is New Zealand culture that is indicted, and men and women are both guilty. There are many victims in Top of the Lake, but there are few innocents. Women seem to limit their sins to denying, defending and otherwise enabling the behavior of men, and the dark side of the culture in general, but Top of the Lake wants us to question whether they are any less guilty. We probably see this most clearly in Campion’s main character Robin Griffin, played by Elizabeth Moss.

    There are many good reasons to like Robin, and to identify with her. But the viewer suspects Al Parker (David Wenham) early on, and grows uncomfortable as Robin fails to follow up on some fairly clear warning signs, especially when she blacks out and wakes up in his bed and clothes, but fails to have a rape kit done, or a blood test, or to do anything more than give Al a light questioning. She has suspicions, but she fails to follow through on them. It begins to resemble the denial and willful blindness that is so much a part of the local culture, and a strong theme of the series.

    Robin continues to get drunk in bars filled with overtly misogynist men, including one who actually raped her as a teenager. She rekindles an old relationship with an old flame, Johnno (Thomas M. Wright) in a no-means-yes moment in a pub toilet. This old flame had abandoned her at a high school dance just before she was raped by four drunk local men. He comes clean about being there, but refuses to deny planning it with them ahead of time. She continues seeing him.

    When the local drug lord, Matt Mitchum (Peter Mullan), the most obvious villain of the series, reveals to her that he is her father, and that her lover is therefore her half-brother, we feel her horror as she realizes that many of the local demons are inside of her as well, and have been all along (Al has DNA testing done, and reports that Johnno is not Matt’s son. However he also reports that Tui’s baby is Matt’s, almost certainly a lie. We never know for sure).

    As ugly as this all might sound, I continue to have a lot of sympathy and patience for Robin, as do most viewers I think. Credit this to the acting of Elizabeth Moss, but of course Campion knows that it is important that the audience care about even such a deeply flawed character.

    Campion may have less patience for Robin than we do. GJ, the reluctant “guru” of Paradise, played by Holly Hunter, is inspired by the late Indian philosopher U.G. Krishnamurti, a friend of Campion’s. GJ has no more patience for Robin than for any of the “crazy living at Paradise. Robin is apparently the “crazy that broke the camel’s back, sending GJ off to Reykjavik, about as far from New Zealand as a person can get.
    Expand
  3. Apr 17, 2013
    10
    watched the whole series yesterday.......woot woot!!!! Loved Elisabeth Moss...she did her typical great job....Cant wait for Copper and Hellwatched the whole series yesterday.......woot woot!!!! Loved Elisabeth Moss...she did her typical great job....Cant wait for Copper and Hell on Wheels to start again... Expand
  4. Apr 12, 2013
    5
    If you are a man hating woman this show is for you. The amount of emotional intelligence to find the show interesting precludes it mostly toIf you are a man hating woman this show is for you. The amount of emotional intelligence to find the show interesting precludes it mostly to women for starters. The fact that EVERY SINGLE MAN in the show is a hatful, spiteful, rapist, woman beater, dirty cop, child molesterer, drug dealer, bum, drunk or merely insensitive clod with the one exception of course of the romantic interest of the main character. While every woman in the show is an emotionally sensitive, understanding, moralistic, high champion of justice and what's right, makes the show somewhat single faceted in its' diatribe. The show is compelling in terms of the acting and general plot, but the awful one sided message seems to override the plot as a premise for the story at times. You really have to wonder at the writing and directing of Jane Campion here. Expand
  5. Aug 14, 2014
    4
    I was led to this show by the positive review scores and the chance to see Elisabeth Moss in something other than Mad Men...and sometimes theI was led to this show by the positive review scores and the chance to see Elisabeth Moss in something other than Mad Men...and sometimes the reviews lie....A sort of a Killing, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo thing going on...Definitely not sympathetic to men...whilst the female cast is a bit holier than thou.....Beautiful New Zealand background but the rest ...Nah...Holly Hunters band of happy woman living apart from man..What was the point of them??? apart from having Hunter on the credits...The love interest..just didn't gel either..It had a little something but all in all...very unsatisfying.. Expand
  6. Jul 21, 2013
    2
    Absolutely ludicrous plot. A bunch of scenes designed for sensational effect. I. e. the chimpanzee story --shameless exploitation of aAbsolutely 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?
    Expand
  7. Jan 17, 2015
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. How does anyone think this is good? Both my wife and I struggled to finish it. Too many story lines that barely intersect. In one scene they track a guy into the woods, then while tracking him spontaneously have sex, 2 guys just happen to be walking by to film it. If I had a nickel for every time that's happened to me... No one on the entire thing is normal, the kid helping girl with food, bangs his head on the wall and smacks himself, why? Crazy woman who had a chimpanzee as a boyfriend, guy who whips himself while talking to his dead mom, another crazy woman in charge of a storage container commune, her husband who flies into the middle of nowhere in a helicopter, their daughter attracts people in the woods with her guitar playing, drug dealing motorcycle gang. I know it was written and directed by the same person but it seemed more like it was written using the mad lib process. Expand

See all 24 User Reviews

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