Sink­ing ship

Riviera treads on fa­mil­iar wa­ters to present shal­low char­ac­ters and un­in­ter­est­ing mys­ter­ies.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Tv - Mum­taj Begum

RICH peo­ple have prob­lems too, or at least that’s what TV shows like Big Lit­tle Lies, Gos­sip Girl, Sex And The City, 90210, Re­venge and the pop­u­lar 1980s soap op­eras

Dy­nasty, as well as Dal­las, tell us. But the trou­ble with shows re­volv­ing around wealthy peo­ple is that most of us can’t sym­pa­thise with the char­ac­ters, even if we do en­joy watch­ing some of the above shows for its high drama.

De­spite strug­gling with failed re­la­tion­ships or hav­ing ad­dic­tion prob­lems, they some­how still man­age to squeeze in soirees, fab­u­lous hol­i­days ... all these while wear­ing lux­u­ri­ous threads and us­ing the most ex­pen­sive gad­gets to up­load their In­sta­gram posts.

So, ex­cuse us for not be­ing able to re­late.

In mo­ments like this, it seems like their wor­ries are not as mon­u­men­tal as that of some­one with a wan­ing bank ac­count ... although this is an un­fair as­sump­tion. Af­ter all, as the say­ing goes, money can’t buy hap­pi­ness.

Sure, all these series have a notso-rich char­ac­ter – as a way in for the au­di­ence to this world – but, pretty soon, these so-called poor peo­ple are also liv­ing the life of lux­ury thanks to their rich friends.

Riviera is such a show. Rich peo­ple with first world prob­lems.

The show is part soap opera, part drama with some mys­tery thrown in. It re­volves around the su­per-rich Clios fam­ily.

They are so rich that they have their own pri­vate jet al­low­ing them to be in two coun­tries on the same day. With­out, ap­par­ently, hav­ing to go through the im­mi­gra­tion has­sle.

They wake up in France, and at­tend an auc­tion in New York in the same af­ter­noon to bid on a paint­ing for US$30mil.

Be­fore you can say “hate them”, we are shown a teenage Clio girl cut­ting her­self, prob­a­bly to get a teeny bit of at­ten­tion from her busy, busy, busy, par­ents.

Later we also learn that the Clio sons are not all to­gether ei­ther, although they try to present strong per­sonas. The el­dest is def­i­nitely hid­ing some­thing, while the sec­ond son is ad­dicted to heroin and suf­fers from low self-es­teem is­sues. (Boo-hoo?)

Then there is the lit­tle mat­ter of the older, di­vorced, ex-wife (Lena Olin) who is re­sent­ful of the younger Mrs Ge­orgina Clio (Ju­lia Stiles).

Ge­orgina, we learn, didn’t ac­tu­ally grow up with a sil­ver spoon in her mouth. Her father is serv­ing a prison sen­tence (a fact

none of the Clios knows).

She has been mar­ried to Con­stan­tine for a year, which means she doesn’t know much about her hus­band. She has a trust­ing na­ture, so it makes her come across as naive.

But you won­der how can that be? For some­one who had to fend for her­self most of the time, grow­ing up poor, shouldn’t Ge­orgina be more street savvy and be able to read peo­ple bet­ter?

Any­way, as she tries to un­cover her hus­band’s se­crets, she re­alises she does not know any­thing about the fam­ily she’s mar­ried to. Ex­cept prob­a­bly how filthy rich they are.

This show has good stock: it is cre­ated, writ­ten and pro­duced by Neil Jor­dan (who gave us films like The Cry­ing Game, Michael Collins and The End Of The Af­fair) and stars ca­pa­ble ac­tors like Stiles, Olin, Adrian Lester, Iwan Rheon and An­thony LaPaglia.

Riviera also wins with its beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tions in France, all cap­tured in cin­e­matog­ra­phy per­fec­tion, with ev­ery char­ac­ter dressed oh-so-stylishly, es­pe­cially Stiles and Olin, who look fab­u­lous in ev­ery scene. Stiles, too, ma­noeu­vres her char­ac­ter to be­come more cu­ri­ous and less naive be­liev­ably. Some of the best scenes are be­tween Stiles and Olin with their char­ac­ters in heated ar­gu­ments.

While the first two episodes are promis­ing – start­ing with the death of Con­stan­tine Clios on board a lux­ury yacht on the wa­ters of Monaco, set­ting off the mys­tery – later episodes be­come a drag as the show keeps in­tro­duc­ing new twists, which serve to irk more than in­trigue the au­di­ence.

Like the fact that Clios’ wealth is ac­tu­ally ill-gained, with pos­si­ble as­so­ci­a­tion to a gang­ster who runs a casino and a brothel ... and one of the pros­ti­tutes may be an as­sas­sin! Mean­while, an­other pros­ti­tute is mur­dered, putting her twin – who also works at the same place – in dan­ger. How does this fit into Clios’ story?

An­other sub­plot re­volves around an elab­o­rate art theft/ fraud that leads back to Con­stan­tine and the other bil­lion­aire who was killed along­side him on the same boat.

Per­haps the big­gest mys­tery is why Con­stan­tine has an Amer­i­can ac­cent, while his chil­dren have Bri­tish ac­cents when their mother has an Euro­pean ac­cent?

It doesn’t help that none of the char­ac­ters here are re­motely like­able.

In the end, Riviera is like the rich peo­ple it por­trays. On the sur­face, Riviera is en­vi­ably beau­ti­ful, but, on closer in­spec­tion, ev­ery­thing just falls apart.

Riviera is avail­able on iflix.

It’s never too early to look for a plot at the ceme­tery.

‘OMG. I can’t re­mem­ber if I switched off the car en­gine.’

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