Georgina Clios (Julia Stiles) spends her days working as an art curator on the French Riviera and enjoying her life married to billionaire philanthropist Constantine (Anthony LaPaglia). Her life is turned upside down when Constantine is killed during a party on a boat and Georgina quickly realises that she may not have known all that much about her beloved husband. As she tries to find out what really happened, Georgina has to contend with Constantine’s troubled children and his meddling ex-wife Irina (Lena Olin).
Riviera originally aired on Sky Atlantic HD in the UK and it was created by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game). At its heart Riviera is a film noir-esque thriller with an addictive soapy feel and while the premise may not be wholly original, there’s much to enjoy about the series. The 10-episode series is a slow burn with Georgina finding out little bits about her husband with the help of her old friend Robert (Adrian Lester).
Julia Stiles is well cast as Georgina. I always feel like she’s an actress that hasn’t quite had the breaks she deserves in her career, even after her stellar turn in Dexter. She truly shines here bringing an absorbing mix of likeability, vulnerability and steely resilience to Georgina. Some of her best scenes are opposite the always-excellent Lena Olin as the two trade pleasantries with an undertone of condescension.
Much of the season also explores Georgina’s relationships with her three step children Christos (Dimitri Leonidas), Adam (Iwan Rheon) and Adriana (Roxane Duran). The needy Adriana relies heavily on her, rather than her own mother, whilst Adam’s motivations are initially very unclear and Christos is desperate to take his father’s place in the family. The dynamic between the siblings is intriguing as is the way they interact with Georgina.
What Riviera does very well is to deliver twists when you least expect them. After the first episode I genuinely thought I had the entire series pegged but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s deceptively more layered than I expected and it keeps you guessing. I found myself keen to watch the next episode as the credits of the one I was watching started.
Bonus features on the release are thing on the ground with only an interview with Julia Stiles on offer.
Riviera did well when it aired earlier this year and it’s not hard to see why. It has the gloss of an American series but the gripping tone of the best Scandi-drama. It’s flawed in places for sure but mostly Riviera is a guilty pleasure viewing with a stellar cast and plenty to keep you hooked. What more could you want?
Cast: Julia Stiles, Lena Olin, Adrian Lester, Iwan Rheon, Roxane Duran, Dimitri Leonidas, Anthony LaPaglia Certificate: 15 Duration: 450 mins Released by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Release date: 25th September 2017