Reviewers praise Campion drama

Elisabeth Moss, who stars in Top of the Lake.
Elisabeth Moss, who stars in Top of the Lake.

First-look reviews of Jane Campion's Top of the Lake say the mini-series is a meaty, gritty drama on a par with Twin Peaks and the hit Danish television show The Killing.

The seven-part detective drama series shot in Wakatipu and set in the fictional town of Laketop in the Southern Alps will be shown in New Zealand next month.

Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss stars as a big city detective adrift in a world of small-town intrigue in the drama, which revolves around the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old, her charismatic drug-lord father, rape, murder, a new-age women's camp and corrupt police force.

In the Guardian a reviewer said the the hour-long first instalment directed by Campion was injected with a little of the haunting and small-town menace borrowed from David Lynch's groundbreaking Twin Peaks.

Reviewer Andrew Pulver said Campion was playing things differently and events were not kicked off by the discovery of a mutilated cadaver but the sight of a young girl wading into a lake.

"Even with scene-setting to get through, we can see that Campion means to investigate abuse, dysfunction and gender plight in concert with solving [the disappearance]."

The series features singular female characters. Moss's mother is fighting cancer and indulges a violent partner while a guru played by Holly Hunter runs a women's camp.

Pulver said the episode was meaty and praised actor Peter Mullan, who plays a brutal drug lord.

Another reviewer who watched the entire series at the Berlin Film Festival said the drama was hugely compelling, with outstanding photography, genuine suspense and terrific performances.

A reviewer at a Sundance Festival showing said the series was upsetting, beautiful, fantastically acted and mysterious.

The co-production between UKTV in Australia, the BBC and the Sundance Channel shared directing duties between Campion, who also co-wrote with Gerard Lee, and Australian director Garth Davis.

The series will kick off in New Zealand at 8.30pm on March 25 on UKTV.

The Southland Times