Jane Campion said at the Sydney premiere of Top of the Lake China Girl that keeping the title Top of the Lake was mainly for branding purposes, however she did not know why, but the subtitle China Girl just clicked for her. Although the body of the Asian woman who washes up in a suitcase on Bondi Beach, Sydney, is that of a Thai woman, she wanted the play on words regarding the fragility of an actual porcelain China doll. I suspect she also wanted to dig into the racism, sexism and the impact of colonialism on the perception of Asian women in western popular culture. But I may be putting words into her mouth. However, after watching the whole of the mini-series, I am not so sure that I am wrong.
Set in Sydney, Australia, a beautiful city that is showcased well (I may be biased as I live here), the story has Robin Griffin (Elizabeth Moss) returning from the top of the lake in the South Island, New Zealand (of the first season) to resume her job as a police Detective. She is investigating the death of the Asian woman and is also hoping to connect to the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was 16 years old. What we get is an exploration into white upper middle class suburbia, the legal sex worker industry that mainly involves Asian women and everything in between. Motherhood, friendship, casual misogyny (and not so casual), sex and the city of Sydney are all explored with great performances by all actors, from the well known (Nicole Kidman, Gwendoline Christie) to the unknown (Ling Cooper, Lincoln Vickery) and all the great Australian actors in between.
Jane Campion executive produces, in addition to creating, writing, and directing, along with her long time writing partner, Jarrod Lee, and co-director Ariel Kleiman, who joins the creative family. I have a feeling that viewers are going to either love or hate this series. It is beautiful, darkly funny with raw, poignant high points and some contrived plot threads. As a viewer you either accept them or you don't. I did. I hope you do too, as it is a compelling and evocative series anchored by an always awesome Elizabeth Moss.