‘Top of the Lake’ DVD review

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Haunting, elegiac, pensive; all are words that could describe Jane Campion’s extraordinary new six-part series. It’s one of the few programmes this year that piques every emotion in the body.

Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss is Robin Griffin, the audacious if a little unhinged detective who returns to her hometown to quickly find herself drawn into an investigation that threatens to flip her entire life around; pursuing the disappearance of a young expectant girl whilst dealing with some hard-hitting home truths.

Moss excels herself although she – and the rest of the cast – are all upstaged by the real star of the show: the scenery. Framing the show’s driving mystery, the breathtaking backdrop simply takes your breath away. Directors Gareth Davis and Jane Campion indulge us with some gorgeous topography, giving us one of the most aesthetically-pleasing crime dramas since Broadchurch.

If you’re looking to fill a Broadchurch-shaped hole in your TV schedule, Top of the Lake is truly irresistible viewing and just as compelling. Like Channel 4’s recent slow burner Southcliffe, the show takes its time to get going, but by mid-series you’ll be absolutely hooked.

As the missing girl’s father, Scottish actor Peter Mullan portrays a grizzly ball of anger whose family dominates the local area. A man you really don’t want to mess with, Mullan is on excellent form as the volatile patriarch. Supporting Mullan and Moss is Holly Hunter playing a rather irksome free soul running a woman’s commune, neatly called Paradise, but it’s Moss and Mullan who underpin the whole series with some very emotive performances.

One of 2013’s most poignant and thrilling series, Top of the Lake is a sheer tour de force and well worth catching up on in stunning HD on Blu-ray if you missed it on BBC Two.

Extras: Included on a tantalizing bonus disc are a couple of very similar featurettes on the making of Top of the Lake, looking at how the show went from paper to the small screen. The first documentary chronicles the writing process and how Jane Campion and her fellow writer, Gerard Lee pitched the series to the BBC.

Moving on you have a couple of brief featurettes showing Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter’s opinion of the show as they explain how the series is about the blackness in our hearts – a suitably bleak stuff extra for Top of the Lake.

Released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 19 August 2013 by BBC Worldwide.

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