Season two sees Jane Campion wring cinematic beauty from a seedy Sydney cityscape, with Nicole Kidman joining 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 size 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 fall, and human hair, long and black, billows out in the underwater currents, as if it is alive again.
I worried 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 vast, lonely beauty of the South Island scenery played such a major part in the first series. But Campion wrings a different kind of beauty, still cinematic though, from a seedy Sydney cityscape.
Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss, totally mesmerising again, and now briefly overlapping herself as the lead in the two most absorbing dramas currently on television), has returned to Sydney to throw herself into work and to forget about everything that went down by the Kiwi lake. And also, maybe, because she has a teenage daughter here, a child she gave up at birth but whose letter which came a few years ago, seeking contact she carries around with her. Perhaps now is the time for that contact.
There is a lot of reflection on what it means to be a mother, and specifically the mother-daughter relationship, 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 pain of missing out; non-biological motherhood, surrogate motherhood. Real-life motherhood, too: who plays Robins daughter, Mary, when they do (of course) make contact? Campions real-life daughter, Alice Englert.
Nicole Kidman, the big-name movie star, as Holly Hunter was in the first series, is fabulous and so very real as Marys adoptive mother: academic, fiercely clever, infuriating, especially to her (adopted) daughter. Any kind of mother-daughter relationship, it seems, is not an easy one.
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