Top Of The Lake

Top Of The Lake Image

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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 150 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • 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

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. People Weekly
    Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Mar 15, 2013
    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
    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: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Mar 18, 2013
    A stunning, richly textured, feminist existential epic.
  5. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Mar 18, 2013
    After the forced setup, evolves into a rich portrait of hard lives and the possibility of healing. By episode 3, the miniseries feels like a smart crime novel, steeped in very specific locales and individuals.
  6. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Mar 18, 2013
    Top of the Lake is reminiscent of AMC's The Killing in ways both good (its moodiness) and unfortunate--Robin has a fiancé back home who keeps pleading for her to return--but its world is so specific and transcendently trippy, haunted by mythic legends rooted in this unforgiving geography, that it feels wondrously fresh, alien and unforgettable.
  7. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Mar 18, 2013
    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: 13 out of 30
  2. Negative: 13 out of 30
  1. Apr 11, 2013
    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
    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.
  3. Apr 17, 2013
    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. Feb 3, 2014
    Jane Campion is a champion of the weird and freakish. It was therefore with trepidation that I followed this mini-series. Turns out, myJane 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.
  5. Apr 16, 2013
    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 ofThis 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
  6. Mar 26, 2013
    Having watched the first two episodes of this series, I am astonished at the general positivity of the reviews it has received. I can onlyHaving 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
  7. May 21, 2015
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Unbelievable plot and characters saturate this nightmare. Most of the scenes don't link up with each other and many of the relationships in this story Make no sense. There are constant errors, such as at the end of episode one, the lawyer was reported as a 'Man Overboard' after being killed, then the next day, Moss and the half-brother find the lawyers body while inexplicably jogging in the woods together after having met the day before during investigation.

    These kind of unexplainable errors in writing are rife and rampant throughout this crappy, crappy show. All of the women, even the main character are ugly, unintelligent and introverted, making many of her character's appearances on screen pointless and dull. I can't see how anyone that has ever watched TV before could give this show a 10/10 let alone a 100/100. This show is terrible and it was apparently written by morons or crazy people.

See all 30 User Reviews

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