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Riviera, Sky Atlantic review - codswallop on the Côte d'Azur | reviews, news & interviews

Riviera, Sky Atlantic review - codswallop on the Côte d'Azur

Riviera, Sky Atlantic review - codswallop on the Côte d'Azur

Sun, sex, sleaze and Eurotrash

'What the hell are we doing here?' Julia Stiles and Adrian Lester lose the plot

W Somerset Maugham, who knew a thing or two about the dark side, summed up the Riviera as “a sunny place for shady people”. On the evidence of this first episodeRiviera is a funny place for shitty people.

The first few minutes flung us between London, Monaco and New York. Bright lights, big titties. The connection between money and sex was made straight away – and in the case of Christos Clios (Dimitri Leonidas, pictured below) in doggy style. Talking about money in Canary Wharf – “there is nothing more rigorous” – turns him on. According to him, the unregulated international art market represents the “last Wild West”.

Riviera, Sky Atlantic While his stepmother Georgina (Julia Stiles) tried to buy an abstract daub for $30 million in New York, her husband Constantine (Anthony La Paglia: Without a Trace, The Code), back in Monaco, made the mistake of attending a party on a Russian oligarch’s super-yacht. Before he could follow a topless trollop into the Med, the vessel exploded. There is only one (female) survivor.

It takes a certain kind of courage (or commercial death-wish) to kill off your star in the first 10 minutes – and it is a shame to see so little of the ever-reliable Matthew Marsh (who must have been boosting his pension fund and brushing up his Russian accent by playing the ill-starred oligarch). Stiles made a great impression as Lumen Ann Pierce in season five of Dexter – and is familiar from the Bourne franchise – but here, looking like a bargain-basement Sharon Stone or a Britney (on a good day) lookalike – she lacks the presence to make us follow her through nine more episodes as she discovers what a dirty, double-dealing scoundrel she married just one year ago.

Lena Olin (Vinyl, The Unbearable Lightness of Being) adds a touch of class to the proceedings as Constantine’s serpentine ex-wife (below): “There’s only so much sympathy one can take.” Her other son, Adam, is played by Iwan Rheon. It’s just weird seeing Ramsay Bolton (from Game of Thrones) in modern clothes. Adrian Lester and Nicholas Rowe can add very little to a cast full of Euro-nobodies. The brilliant Phil Davis is due to appear soon, but he won’t be able to salvage a lamentable script that might as well have been written on gossamer. There is zero substance to it.

Riviera, Sky Atlantic As a long-time admirer of Neil Jordan’s work, I find it hard to believe he is responsible for this froth. How can a writer and director whose credits include Angel, The Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa, The Crying Game and The End of the Affair stoop so low? It must be financial pressure rather than creative burn-out. That said, he did manage to make The Borgias boring (the original 1981 series is a masterpiece in comparison), but he has been helped by no less a writer than the Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville on this episode of Riviera. Perhaps, like Constantine Clios, they just took the money and ran.

A self-harming daughter and a dreary funeral were no compensation for one big bang and some pretty coastal scenery (complete, in one long shot, with burning bush fires). There was a motorcycle chase that would disgrace any Bond movie and the discovery of a Beretta in the dead man’s fuck-pad that Georgina clearly doesn’t know how to use.

“It’s been too long…”; “Do not trust anyone…”; “You broke my heart…” The Good Lord help us. If it’s clichés you’re after, Emmerdale, for one, serves them up with better acting every week-night.

It takes a certain kind of courage to kill off your star in the first 10 minutes

rating

Editor Rating: 
1
Average: 1 (1 vote)

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Comments

I could not agree more. I was the Jordan/Banville pedigree that made me watch it. Shockingly bad.

Typical pretentious review with no idea what he is talking about. This is mainstream tv not an arty-farty production for movie snobs. Has he actually looked at what else is on this website?

This review is spot on. I got as far as the first 20 minutes of episode 3 and had to turn it off before deleting the other episodes. A waste of space on Sky TV Planner. The acting is wooden, the script is atrocious and the plot meandering at best. I just couldn't take anymore of Julia Stiles slowly boring me to death whilst I care not a hot what happens to any one of them.

After wathing all 10 episodes of this mini-series, I can confidently say that I agree with this review. I felt rather let down by the show upon completion as what seemed like a series with such potential became confusing, incoherent and numb. Many twists were put in place to keep the audience guessing which began as a joy and kept my interest, however as this changeable pattern continued, as a viewer I began to become lost and eventually disinterested. Clichés are littered throughout which I initially took no issue with until there was no other factor of the show that made up for this. Plots were opened that left me questioning such as the self-harm. However, these were not quantified and barely touched upon again. I also found as I began to take a unique interest and possible liking to a character, a major negative storyline would begin and result in a dislike for the character, leaving us as an audience no one to root for aside from the powerful but (unfortunately) eventually "same-y" and one dimensional character of Georgina. However, although I felt all of the above to be true - I had only noticed this as I finished the series. There were a lot of storylines I expected to be tied up and questions to be answers. But, the end was abrupt, and diluted with an almost inception-like lie spiral. It felt as though the ending had been superglued onto the end of a murder mystery novel, and this ending had been written in a matter of seconds. This is incredibly unfortunate. I have heard Stiles mentioned that there was more than one ending filmed - I would like to see this other ending. In contrast to the negativity I felt to this show's on-the-nose ending, I must say that I believe the actors were at no fault. Stiles' performance was spotless, and Duran, Rheon and Leonadis' performances were truly magnifecent for the characters and scripts they had been given. What I had found most considerably perplexing was Georgina and Adam's storyline (as I had mentioned before) as there was a bountiful amount of flitting back and forth between love, friendship and hate. This may been to present the unstableness of Rheon's character. However, it felt rather clumsy and out of character for Stiles'. Georgina was not constiatenly written. She spent the entire show contradicting herself which, again, could be put up to grief and insecurity. However, it significantly infected the story with instability which in turn lost my patience and focus.

It was dire. Two lots of Russian 'baddies' blowing up people and boats and/or torturing them for a missing thing, followed by another missing thing that made the first thing work. Another local baddie murdering people for no perceptible reason aided by a bent detective, thereby leaving, apparently, only one other detective for the whole Côte d'Azur. Only worth watching for the scenery and the women's clothes. The dialogue was cliched beyond belief.

Please can someone tell me the name of the piece of classical music in the last episode that they danced to. The best bit of the series.............In my opinion

It's waltz of the flowers by Tchaikovsky

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