Well, at least filmed in New Zealand and co-written by a New Zealander, although Australian made.
I was wanting to see this for a long time after my sister recommended it to me.
I have just finished watching the ridiculous 800 words, so this was quite a contrast.
Brilliantly written, directed, filmed and acted, Top of the Lake was right up there with Happy Valley and Fargo 1.
What I loved about this series was how it captured the psychology of small town New Zealand. I loved how the scenery was shot in cold uninviting light. Yes Queenstown is stunning, but it is also a very cold foreboding place. Like many beautiful places in New Zealand I have often thought to live there must be very depressing. To visit and ski, great. This to me reflects a great deal of New Zealand. A good place to visit, but not to live.
The oppressive nature of beautiful landscapes and bored empty people. It used to be a few beers, a doobie, a root, and a boogie, now it is P, speed, coke, strong spirits, and whatever else one can get hold of. The Kiwi mentality of drinking until dropping, spewing, and worse is also reflected in it. Go to the Munich beer festival watch the Kiwis get the most fucked up, and obnoxious of all races. It is endemic.
Although sometimes there was a bit too much going on, and some parts were a bit too far fetched, overall it could not be faulted and was very memorable viewing. No surprises I suppose, when it was co-written by Jane Campion. An Angel At My table is one of my all time favourite New Zealand movies.
I began watching the series 800 words. It sounded interesting, after all. A writer moving to a remote New Zealand coastal beach. I had visions of someone like me, moving to somewhere remote and beautiful in Northland, such as Taupo or Taronui Bay. I imagined all the interesting Kiwi characters whose little idiosyncrasies would be exposed. Something real at last, about Kiwis and the ever present and ever increasing New Zealand cultural divides.
Instead I was disappointed to discover that it was like Home and Away. The only easily identifiable Kiwi-ness I could find were the Maoris, and the odd classic Kiwi song.
The characters, perhaps with the exception of the McNamaras, just didn’t seem Kiwi to me at all. Especially not Kiwis from a small coastal town (which I grew up in).
Personally, having travelled extensively and lived in 6 countries around the world, I consider all Kiwis to be small town, though they don’t seem to know it, but the real small town Kiwis have certain characteristics which were sorely missing in the series.
Close-minded, judgemental, can be very standoffish to newbies, homophobic, and don’t forget of course their clear chip on the shoulders with regards Aussies. Plus I have always found small town Kiwis to be quite shy, reserved, and introverted, unless they are off their faces, which they seem to be on a regular basis to get over their introversion and shyness. The small town Kiwi parties I have been to mainly consist of stoned people standing around in small circles, drinking from cans of beer, with the occasional chuckle.
Conversations in such towns revolve around rugby, getting drunk, smoking weed, rooting, and fishing.
These characters however, were like small town Kiwis with acid, or E seeping into their drinking water. Small town Kiwis converted to all friendly wise Buddhists, along with philosophical sayings related to dolphins and whales.
I saw some of the indignant comments from Kiwis, who seemed disgusted that they Kiwis were made out to be stupid hicks. That part at least had some credence, and amused me, and I watched on as I was sure the series had been written by Australians.
I was very surprised however to find that it was written by two Kiwis.
I had the impression the series was set on a small remote island, though culturally closer to Australia than New Zealand. Like Great Barrier Island with a few spatterings of The Wicker Man thrown in.
The dialogue was cringe worthy at times, as was the Sex and the City voice-over, but the New Zealand scenes were nice, even if they were from multiple locations around the North Island. And the Kiwi songs were nice.
I suppose it goes again to show that Kiwis, Pakeha at least, don’t really know what they are, can’t really define themselves, unless they have lived overseas for some time.
Apart from that most of the time I was thinking, someone actually paid to make this?
Was that 800 words?