I knew absolutely nothing about the show Riviera before watching it, and imagine my surprise to see three decent-sized names — Julia Stiles, Anthony Lapaglia, and Lena Olin — as the stars. That alone would give me enough insight to predict RENEWAL sight unseen. I’d certainly have to give it a fighting chance. Except what I didn’t know is that the show is from 2017 and is already on SEASON 3! Umm…I’m a little behind the times.
But I watched the first episode without knowing that status. Julia and Anthony are fabulously rich, or at least Anthony is. Jet-setting, art purchases, yachts, homes in Cote d’Azur. High finance people flying here and there. Actively managing their wealth. Then the wife goes to NYC to buy a painting, and she wants to know if she can go above $30M for the painting or not, while he goes to a late-night meeting with some people on a yacht that then explodes. The wife wants to know what happened, and the search begins. I ignored the family drama.
Julia plays Georgina Clios, former security officer and mistress of Constantine Clios and now his wife. They are madly in love, but with a sense of insecurity, almost desperation at times between them. Julia is hit and miss for me. I liked her for part of the Bourne series, but not all, and a few movies here and there. She’s pretty stoic, and it’s actually interesting to see her as a full-fledged woman, not a girl-bordering-on-womanhood character. She’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s pretty fragile for EP1, having just found out her husband is dead, and understandably so, not that she is completely convinced of it at times.
Anthony plays Constantine, and it is hard to get a handle on his character, a bit slippery. He loves his wife, yet keeps a love nest with pictures of her everywhere in it (is it really a love nest?). He is distracted while talking to her on the phone just before the explosion, staring at a beautiful young woman. Seems like a slimeball, but appearances might be deceiving. He certainly had secrets of some kind. Not a lot of screentime, but memorable.
Lena Olin is disappointing as the ex-wife. She is supportive, but has her own agenda and seems more like a cliché than anything. Quite disappointing that is all she is given to do.
The only other real character of note is a police detective, played by Amr Waked. He was okay in the movie Lucy, and he is okay here, but a weird vibe — he is incredibly intense about the investigation, with no explanation of why. Beyond him, there are several family members who might have decent roles in the show, hard to tell. Mostly Constantine’s kids, and the son of the yacht owner who claims the explosion was murder.
Up until about the three-quarter mark, I was thinking “Meh”. But once Georgina starts investigating, the show picks up, and it makes me curious where it might go. I find it hard to decide if I want to continue or not, but I think I will.