Top of The Lake – TV Review

Top of the Lake

Remember not long ago when all anyone could talk about was Broadchurch? Remember how it gripped you with its murder mystery? Remember how slow-moving the whole thing was? Remember how every character apart from the leads was a little bit empty and at worse silly? Well airing tonight on BBC One is a serial crime drama with all of the intrigue of Broadchurch but without any of the painfully slow bit and characters for characters.

Top of the Lake at its heart is about Tui, a missing and heavily pregnant 12-year-old girl, and Robin (Elisabeth Moss) the detective who returns to her home town to investigate and is forced to confront some dark events from her own childhood. That’s the basic plot but there is so much more depth to this series. Every character is struggling in some way and have their own diverse motivations and personalities. Set in a small town in New Zealand there is a real feel of this being an ensemble show. While Moss may play the lead no other character gets short shrift.

Elisabeth Moss - Top of the Lake

With a script from Oscar-winning Jane Campion and an international cast including Elisabeth Moss (who wows us in every episode of Mad Men), Peter Mullan (who terrified us all in Tyrannosaur), and Holly Hunter (unrecognisable as the head of a shipping container based women’s commune) Top of the Lake is an expertly written and brilliantly realised drama that does not rely solely on the central mystery to keep you coming back for more.

The show is halfway through its run on BBC One but I was sent the full series last week and devoured it as quickly as my social life allowed. This is the type of show that sucks you in and demands that you immerse yourself fully. Having been lucky enough to see the final episode let me assure you that it contains the shocking twist you will expect but is far more satisfying a conclusion than Broadchurch offered up. The show is dark, shocking, and a little bit brilliant.

Episode 4 of 6 airs tonight on BBC One at 9:10pm. If you are in need of catching up then the previous episodes are available on iTunes, BBC iPlayer, and the whole series is set for DVD and Blu-ray release on 19th August. And if you come back later in the week we’ll be giving away a copy.

What more can we possibly do to make you watch!?

EDIT: I forgot to mention the beautiful landscape. How could I do that to the beauty of New Zealand? Suffice it to say that the setting for the drama is stunning. Slightly more grey than we’ve seen in Lord of the Rings but we’re dealing with pregnant children here not hobbits.

Tyrannosaur – Review

Extrapolated from the short film Dog Altogether, Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur follows the tentative friendship formed between eternally angry and violent Joseph (Peter Mullan), and the tragic charity shop worker Hannah (Olivia Colman).

This is not the uplifting story of redemption you might be expecting, the pair don’t solve each other’s problems. The film is far more raw and honest than that, at no point satisfied with walking the expected path. To say there is a plot twist would make the story seem too gimmicky, let’s just say there is a moment that shocked me and which I couldn’t have seen coming.

Tyrannosaur risks falling into the over-subscribed category of the “gritty british drama” yet somehow elevates itself above that. The film is much more cinematic than your average kitchen sink drama; dark shots with a sharp focus raise the production values above its peers.

While Considine has done a brilliant job directing, the emphasis in Tyrannosaur is most definitely on character. Peter Mullan plays a brilliantly layered and emotionally damaged Joseph, a man so irredeemable in the opening scene and yet ultimately a man who we root for. Olivia Colman is at the top of her game, that slight sadness she sometimes allows to show in her eyes during otherwise comedic performances take centre stage as she rises triumphantly as a dramatic actress. Eddie Marsan also deserves a nod for bringing to life character so hateful the audience is against him before he speaks his first line.

Powerful, brutal and honest. An attention grabbing and emotionally raw feature debut from Paddy Considine. Olivia Colman broke my heart and Peter Mullan terrified me. In the months since I saw this film I haven’t been able to shake its shadow. Superb.

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Tyrannosaur – Trailer

Paddy Considine is not content to be a successful writer and actor but has directed his first feature film. Rather than take the easy route and direct a simple, lighter film Considine has gone right in the deep end with a dark drama about an unlikely relationship between a violent widower (Peter Mullan) and a troubled charity shop worker (Olivia Colman). You can see the first trailer below, just don’t go expecting any dinosaurs.

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// While we’ve seen the film we won’t be doing a full review for a while as the film isn’t out until 7th October. After attending the press screening we were asked to provide a brief reaction so that’s what you’ll get for now:

“Powerful, brutal and honest. An attention grabbing and emotionally raw feature debut from Paddy Considine. Olivia Colman broke my heart and Peter Mullan terrified me.”

Plenty of material for a poster quote there. In fact below are three alternatives they’d be mad to not go with…