TV review: Riviera, Sky Atlantic (2 stars)

TV review: Riviera, Sky Atlantic

An empty shambles about deception, art and mega-yachts

The shadow of Alfred Hitchcock looms large over art-dealer crime drama Riviera. Its Côte d'Azur setting with winding roads and sheer drops brings to mind the light Cary Grant / Grace Kelly thriller To Catch a Thief while Julia Stiles plays confused, bamboozled and perplexed amid a world that's whirring around her with the blank stare of a Kim Novak or Tippi Hedren.

Gossipy online articles have speculated about Stiles' relative lack of success since her 90s teen heyday in the likes of 10 Things I Hate About You. Conspiracies aside, could it simply be that, well, she's not an especially compelling actress? As Georgina, the widow of super-rich art dealer Constantine Clios (Anthony LaPaglia in a role that is dramatically brief while leaving enough wiggle-room for his resurrection), Stiles perfects a doe-eyed emptiness that's matched by the sullen visage of Lena Olin who sleepwalks through her role as Constantine's first wife.

Amid an awful lot of moody staring at paintings, some lounging around mega-yachts, one horrendously gratuitous self-harming scene and a coked-up TED Talk-style treatise about how wonderful money is, the story of a vast cash-laundering programme facilitated by deception and possible murder meanders so slowly that you'd get more of a buzz from watching actual paint dry. Even the sight of Iwan Rheon doing his now trademark menacing Ramsay Bolton thing is not enough to keep the yawns at bay.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this whole tedious affair is that it comes from an idea which lightbulbed in the mind of ex-U2 boss Paul McGuinness, a man whose most creative act to date was attempting to relocate Wimbledon FC to Dublin in the 1990s. Ultimately, key scriptwriter Neil Jordan can take most of the 'credit' for what came after that inspired seed was spawned. There are an awful lot of good people in this shambles who must have forgotten how to know any better.

Riviera starts on Sky Atlantic, Thu 15 Jun, 9pm.


1. Nick Armstrong21 Jun 2017, 7:58pm

Disappointed with the much hyped first episode due to two things. One the boat explosion was very poor CGI and for a lavish Sky Atlantic production I would have expected more and better. If the production is cutting costs at this pivotal part of the entire mystery then it doesn't bode well. I may have forgiven poor CGI on a minor sub plot distraction but no I'm not accepting it on the main story line essence. Secondly, the explosion and devastation of the boat / yacht was equivalent to the vessel being struck squarely by a Tomahawk Cruise missile. But we are led to believe that the immediate police (French but no matter) was that this was 'clearly an accident'. Haha I was laughing my head off at this point. An accident would be the very last conclusion a 10 year child would contemplate, yet you want us to believe that initially this could be shrugged off as just another one of those 'maritime accidents'. You know the ones where a boat just blows its self into smithereens. Haha. If this were a comedy I think it would have legs.

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