Meridian of the Lake: China Girl review- Elisabeth Moss is absolutely mesmerising, again

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

An Asian duet finish their noodles, then take a big wheelie suitcase to the top of a cliff at night. The sizing of such cases, its obvious heavines, and the graveyard( Waverley ?) they pass through leave you in little doubt about what is inside. That is before a split opens up in it, from the drop, 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 immense, lonely grace of the South Island scenery played such a major part in the first sequence. But Campion wrings other kinds of elegance, still cinematic though, from a seedy Sydney cityscape.

Detective Robin Griffin( Elisabeth Moss, altogether mesmerising again, and now briefly overlapping herself as the lead in the two most sucking dramas currently on tv ), has returned to Sydney to hurl herself into work and to forget about all that is 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 word which reached only a few years ago, trying 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 relation, 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 hurting of missing out; non-biological motherhood, surrogate motherhood. Real-life motherhood, more: who plays Robins daughter, Mary, when they do( of course) shape contact? Campions real-life daughter, Alice Englert.

Nicole Kidman, the big-name movie star, as Holly Hunter was in the first sequence, is fabulous and so very real as Marys adoptive mother: academic, fiercely cunning, infuriating, especially to her( adopted) daughter. Any kind of mother-daughter affair, it seems, is not just a easy one.

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The big-name movie star Nicole Kidman is intense and fantastic in Top of the Lake: China Girl. Picture: See-Saw Films( TOTL2) Retention Pty Ltd

It is also a bit about female affection, which is not straightforward either. It appears as if it might not happen for Robin and her cop collaborator Miranda( Gwendoline Christie) to begin with. The glitch lies almost completely with Robin, but then she is suffering, remember? And occasions change( I binged, it is not feasible not to, when it is all there now, on iPlayer, and it is so addictive ).

They are together on the case of the suitcase, which eventually launders on to Bondi beach, with its awful contents. The investigation takes them to a dark slope of Sydney, a neighbourhood of illegal migration, exploitation, human trafficking and prostitution.

As a riddle and a policeman picture, it is totalling compelling. Less bonkers than the first serial, tighter, better strategy. Last-place duration, 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 event. The equivalent in this a community of dreadful 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 ridiculous, they are misogynistic, prejudiced swine. Dicks, all of them, literally they follow their own penis around like dumb puppies. The one plotting male reputation, with a bit more to him, is Marys boyfriend Puss( David Dencik ). And he is really creepy, manipulative and murderous. Do all the men have to be so ghastly? Perhaps they do, if Puss is correct, and the fate of follower is to enslave females. And if maidens must and do take back power.

Awww, poverty-stricken ardour, poverty-stricken me, are you feeling a little bit gender-bashed? Ill be all right. And I adoration it, because it is beautifully written, beautifully performed, beautiful to look at. And really funny. Dry, adroit, humour, via masterly dialogue. But too surprisingly visual, silent-movie witticism, virtually slapstick. Like the humor height difference between cop spouses Robin and Miranda. And at the very beginning, when the couple are pushing that wheelie suitcase, containing the dead girl, off the cliff, it reels down towards the edge, but then goes put, teetering on the brink, and need to see a nudge before disintegrating into the ocean.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com


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