In many ways, crime drama mini-series Top of the Lake is a quintessential indie mood piece. Filmed in the mountains of New Zealand, every frame is gorgeous. From the eerie symbolism of the title’s vast, void-like lake, to our fearless heroine’s blood-splattered face in the final scenes, Top of the Lake is visually stunning. The fact that it’s also a well-written and finely-detailed thriller sets it apart from the usual all-style-no-substance indie fare.
I should probably know co-writer/co-director Jane Campion from other things (1993’s Oscar-winning The Piano for instance), but actually I’m only familiar with the underrated In the Cut (2003). Campion traverses similar themes of sex and death in Top of the Lake when Sydney cop Robin returns to her childhood home to see her cancer-stricken mother, only to find herself caught up in the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old. If the summary sounds a little hokey, don’t let it put you off: there are enough witty, original touches to Lake that you’ll forget the central storyline is standard crime fiction fare.