Surface of the Lake: China Girl review- Elisabeth Moss is totally mesmerising, again

Season two examines Jane Campion wring cinematic charm from a sleazy Sydney cityscape, with Nicole Kidman meeting Mosss Detective Robin Griffin

An Asian couple finish their noodles, then take a big wheelie suitcase to the top of a cliff at night. The width of the case, its obvious weight, and the cemetery( Waverley ?) they pass through leave you in little doubt about what is inside. That is before a split opens up in it, from the tumble, and human “hairs-breadth”, long and pitch-black, billows out in the underwater currents, as if it is alive again.

I worried about the be removed from New Zealand to Sydney for Jane Campions Top of the Lake follow-up Top of the Lake: China Girl ( BBC2 ). The enormous, lonely allure of the South Island scenery played such a major part in the first series. But Campion wrings other kinds of beautiful, still cinematic though, from a sleazy Sydney cityscape.

Detective Robin Griffin( Elisabeth Moss, absolutely mesmerising again, and now briefly overlapping herself as the lead in the two most sucking dramas currently on television ), has returned to Sydney to hurl herself into work and keep forgetting about everything that went down by the Kiwi lake. And also, perhaps, because she has a teenage daughter here, small children she gave up at delivery but whose note which came only a few years ago, seeking contact she carries around with her. Perhaps now is the time for that contact.

There is a lot of thoughtfulnes on what it means to be a mom, and specifically the mother-daughter tie-in, in ToTL 2.0. Motherhood that has hitherto been denied but that they are able maybe now be caught up on; motherhood that will never be, the madness and sting of missing out; non-biological motherhood, surrogate motherhood. Real-life motherhood, more: who plays Robins daughter, Mary, when they do( of course) clear contact? Campions real-life daughter, Alice Englert.

Nicole Kidman, the big-name movie star, as Holly Hunter was in the first line, is fabulous and so very real as Marys adoptive mother: academic, ferociously inventive, infuriating, especially to her( accepted) daughter. Any kind of mother-daughter relation, it seems, is not an easy one.

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The big-name movie star Nicole Kidman is relentless and splendid in Top of the Lake: China Girl. Photograph: See-Saw Films( TOTL2) Holdings Pty Ltd

It is also a little about female friendship, which is not straightforward either. It searches as if it might not happen for Robin and her polouse spouse Miranda( Gwendoline Christie) to begin with. The omission lies almost completely with Robin, but then she is suffering, recollect? And things change( I binged, it would not be possible to not to, when it is all there now, on iPlayer, and it is so addictive ).

They are together on the case of vehicles of the suitcase, which eventually showers on to Bondi beach, with its horrendous contents. The investigation takes them to a dark area of Sydney, a residence of illegal migration, exploitation, human trafficking and prostitution.

As a whodunit and a officer testify, it is totalling compelling. Less bonkers than the first series, tighter, better proposed. Last epoch, the womens camp by the lagoon was brilliant and funny, for example, but it could have been removed without doing any structural damage to the whole situation. The equivalent in this a community of cruel young male porn-surfers who are incapable of communicating with women who arent fornication employees are more integral to whats going on.

Oh, yeah, the men. If they are not sorry, they are misogynistic, prejudiced animals. Dicks, all of them, literally they follow their own penis around like dumb puppies. The one plotting male attribute, with a bit more to him, is Marys boyfriend Puss( David Dencik ). And he is really creepy, manipulative and violent. Do all the men have to be so ghastly? Maybe they do, if Puss is correct, and the fate of follower is to enslave females. And if girls must and do take back power.

Awww, poverty-stricken adoration, poor me, are you feeling a bit gender-bashed? Ill be all right. And I enjoy it, because it is beautifully written, beautifully played, beautiful to look at. And really funny. Dry, astute, humour, via masterly exchange. But likewise astonishingly visual, silent-movie humour, virtually slapstick. Like the humor height discrepancies between cop partners Robin and Miranda. And at the very beginning, when the couple are pushing that wheelie suitcase, containing the dead dame, off the cliff, it wheels down towards the edge, but then get stuck, teetering on the brink, and need to see a nudge before gate-crashing into the ocean.

It is good news that Campion has discovered the small screen. It is not small-scale; she makes it look big it is large-hearted, demonstrates her cavity. Top of the Lake would never have fitted into a movie.

Read more: www.theguardian.com


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