Pinnacle of the Lake: China Girl review- Elisabeth Moss is entirely mesmerising, again


Season two envisions Jane Campion wring cinematic knockout from a seedy 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 length of the case, its obvious heavines, 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 hair, long and black, billows out in the underwater currents, as if it is alive again.

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

Detective Robin Griffin( Elisabeth Moss, altogether mesmerising again, and now briefly overlapping herself as a leading role in the two most sucking dramas currently on tv ), has returned to Sydney to throw herself into work and to forget about everything that went down by the Kiwi lake. And likewise, maybe, because she has a teenage daughter here, a child she gave up at birth but whose note which came a few years ago, attempting contact she carries around with her. Perhaps the time has now come for that contact.

There is a lot of thinking on what it means to be a mother, and specifically the mother-daughter relation, in ToTL 2.0. Motherhood that has hitherto been denied but that can maybe now be caught up on; motherhood that will never be, the madness and hurting of missing out; non-biological motherhood, surrogate motherhood. Real-life motherhood, more: who plays Robins daughter, Mary, when they do( of course) become 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 mom: academic, furiously ingenious, infuriating, especially to her( chosen) daughter. Any various kinds of mother-daughter affair, it seems, is not just a easy one.

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

It is also a bit about female relationship, which is not straightforward either. It gazes as if it might not happen for Robin and her cop collaborator Miranda( Gwendoline Christie) to begin with. The defect lies almost completely with Robin, but then she is suffering, remember? And occasions change( I binged, it is impossible 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 cleans on to Bondi beach, with its horrific materials. The investigation takes them to a dark side of Sydney, a target of illegal immigration, exploitation, human trafficking and prostitution.

As a mystery and a cop show, it is totalling compelling. Less bonkers than the first series, tighter, better schemed. Last-place epoch, the womens camp by the reservoir was brilliant and funny, for example, but it could have been removed without doing any structural damage to the whole thing. The equivalent in this a community of gruesome young male porn-surfers who are incapable of communicating with women who arent sexuality workers are more integral to whats going on.

Oh, yeah, “the mens”. If they are not pathetic, they find themselves misogynistic, racist swine. Dicks, all of them, literally they follow their own penis around like dumb puppies. The one intriguing male reputation, with a bit more to him, is Marys boyfriend Puss( David Dencik ). And he is really creepy, devious and violent. Do all the men have to be so ghastly? Maybe they do, if Puss is correct, and the fate of gentleman is to enslave wives. And if wives must and do take back power.

Awww, good enjoy, poor me, are you feeling a little bit gender-bashed? Ill be all right. And I cherish it, because it is beautifully written, beautifully played, beautiful to look at. And really funny. Dry, astute, humour, via masterly dialogue. But also amazingly visual, silent-movie witticism, virtually slapstick. Like the humor height difference between cop partners Robin and Miranda. And at the very beginning, when the couple are pushing that wheelie suitcase, containing the dead maiden, off the cliff, it rolls down towards the edge, but then gets persisted, 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-minded; she makes it look big it is large-hearted, pays her space. Top of the Lake would never have fitted into a movie.

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