Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Gone Girl: Inside ‘Top of the Lake,’ Jane Campion’s Haunting New Thriller"

A missing girl. A shocking crime. A town full of secrets. Welcome to Top of the Lake, from creators Jane Campion and Gerard Lee.

At the Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Gone Girl: Inside ‘Top of the Lake,’ Jane Campion’s Haunting New Thriller," for which I sit down with Jane Campion (The Piano), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Holly Hunter (Saving Grace), and Gerard Lee (Sweetie) to discuss Top of the Lake, Campion's haunting and spellbinding new thriller, which launches on Monday evening on the Sundance Channel.

Jane Campion is missing.

The Oscar-nominated director of such films as The Piano and Bright Star is in Los Angeles for a quick stop before the Sundance Film Festival, where her seven-part mystery drama, Top of the Lake, will be screened in its entirety over one day. We’re scheduled to meet for a drink at the Polo Lounge in the historic Beverly Hills Hotel, but Campion has vanished from the hotel, and publicists can’t locate her.

Considering the subject matter of her gripping Sundance Channel limited series—a missing girl and the effort to locate her by a dogged female detective running from her own past—Campion’s disappearance seems almost too fitting. When the 58-year-old auteur does turn up, along with co-creator Gerard Lee, she’s full of heartfelt apologies, her unexpectedly cheerful nature creating an instant intimacy. We settle into a booth in a corner of the restaurant and order a round of gin and tonics, chatting as though we’ve been friends for years.

Top of the Lake, which begins March 18, revolves around the disappearance of Tui (Jacqueline Joe), a pregnant 12-year-old girl, in a remote area of New Zealand and the detective (Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss) tasked with locating her and unmasking the man who impregnated her. It begins with Tui walking into a frigid lake, only to be found by a concerned teacher. After the authorities and her father, Matt Mitcham (Peter Mullan), a bloodthirsty local crime lord, discover that her odd behavior is due to the fact that she is pregnant, Tui vanishes. Moss’s Detective Robin Griffin, a local girl who escaped from Laketop to Sydney years ago, returns to care for her cancer-stricken mother, only to be roped into the investigation. Robin discovers that in trying to find Tui, she must delve deep into her own history: she too is running from something dark and dangerous.

“Robin’s history is kind of a crime scene,” says Campion. “She has to solve it for herself, and she has to become aware of it first. She’s in denial ... and Tui is triggering it, her disappearance mirroring something for her.” It’s a classic novel structure, argues Lee. “The character, by following the case, goes into herself and her own psyche and her own past,” he says. “They’ve got to solve that before they can solve this thing.”

As directed by Campion, Top of the Lake is an atmospheric and moody piece, both haunted and haunting, a gritty look at what lies beneath the surface of a seemingly idyllic lakeside town. As in many of Campion’s films, the inner lives of the characters are as rugged and wild as the landscape itself, and Top of the Lake is no exception. Numerous story strands—Robin’s dark past, the venomous Mitcham and his ne’er-do-well sons, a New Age women’s camp run by the mysterious guru GJ (Holly Hunter)—all coalesce into a taut and provocative thriller about damage, vengeance, and escape.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...


Anonymous said…
Hey Jace,
just catching up on some of the reviews of Top of the Lake. Finally got to this one. Hi, again.


Popular posts from this blog

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian