Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top of the Lake

A young detective (Elisabeth Moss), herself a victim of the primitive mindset that dominates her rural hometown, becomes involved in the case of a pregnant 12-year-old, who disappears into the impermeable New Zealand bush shortly after their interview. Into the fray are thrown the girl's malevolent, tribal leader like father (Peter Mullan) who leads a bloodthirsty search for daughter, and a clan of battered and disturbed women, headed by an ominous mystic (Holly Hunter) who have taken refuge in garbage containers on sacred land. "Top of the Lake" is a miniseries that would have escaped my attention 9 times out of 10, but I am more than glad to have caught it. It was written and directed by Jane Campion ("The Piano", "Bright Star") and she brings to this completely unique and captivating project her own particular sensibilities. Moss takes on a role much different from her best known work on "Mad Men" and she is quite good in another demanding role. Mullan, an older actor who has only recently appeared on my radar with excellent performances in "War Horse" and "Tyrannosaur", delivers a fierce and complicated performance. Sometimes  not all of a story can be told in a two hour movie, but seldom does one call to be dragged on over the course of multiple seasons. With "Top of the Lake", Campion uses the miniseries format to effectively explore her offbeat story and delivers admirably and without compromise.