As I say in my video review above, both Moss –who won an Golden Globe for her role in the first Top Of The Lake installment in 2013 — and the Oscar-winning Kidman turn in prodigious performances in this compelling and almost endlessly emotionally probing six-episode limited series sequel of sorts. The new installment of the series, which Jane Campion co-created with Gerald Lee (she also helmed two episodes of China Girl), runs on Sundance TV for three consecutive nights starting September 10.
Set in New Zealand in the first season, the action moves to Australia where the body of an Asian prostitute that washes up on Sydney’s Bondi Beach provides the case for Moss’ self described “deep-fried” Detective Robin Griffin, though a family tale of secrets and reconnection is equally a part of the drama. To those two intersecting narratives, Game Of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie joins as a Sydney Police Constable who is reluctantly teamed with fellow “leftover” Moss to pursue the matter and more.
The top-notch Kidman, reunited with Campion for the first time since 1996’s The Portrait Of A Lady, plays the adopted and now estranged mother of the daughter Moss’ Griffin gave up almost 20 years before. China Girl also unveils a new star in the making in Alice Englert. The Australian (and Campion’s daughter) plays the conflicted Mary, pivoting between the woman who raised her, the woman who gave birth to her, and an increasingly fraught and dangerous relationship.
If you haven’t see the first TOTL, don’t worry, China Girl more than gives you a primer to set up its own chain of events. In fact, the overdoing of that setup is one of the few flaws in the second installment, along with what I think is too little Kidman ultimately. But that shouldn’t stop you from watching China Girl either night after night or in one DVR binge. With a preview at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and having played on the UK’s BBC 2 earlier this summer, this show is too good to miss.
For more of my double-thumbs-up take on Top Of The Lake: China Girl, click on my review above. Did you watch the first installment? What do you think of this one?
This review was previously posted on August 24, 2017.