Riviera is the perfect example of style over substance.
Filmed on location in the South of France, this pilot is packed with eye-popping scenery and stunning cinematography. Of course a show can’t survive on looks alone, and this is where this slick pilot struggles. The story of a woman who struggles to uncover the truth behind the death of her billionaire husband, Riviera‘s debut is one you’ve seen countless times before. The characters aren’t especially complex, and the narrative is predictably baffling. However, the mystery does grab hold of you in a superficial sort of way.
The show’s cast is sadly uneven. As our protagonist Georgina Clios, Julia Stiles is far from impressive. I don’t know if the problem is in the script but she barely emotes, and I found it difficult to get invested in her emotional journey. Thankfully Lena Olin is here to pick up the slack. Playing a role that’s quite similar to her captivating turn in Alias (and she’s even got the same name (Irin), so I’m guessing the writers are fans), Olin injects a much-needed dose of charisma as a scorned ex-wife. In fact, she steals every single scene with her cat-like demeanor and serpentine edge. It would definitely do the show a world of good to give her more screen-time. Finally, the show also stars Game of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon (you remember Ramsay the sadist right?), but he unfortunately seems somewhat miscast. I’ll reserve judgement until I watch a few more episodes.
Oh, and the cliffhanger is ridiculous.
It’s not the deepest of shows, but there’s enough intrigue (and glamorous sights) to make this an entertaining diversion. Episode two will definitely make or break this one.