Review: Revenge, Murder and Cote D’Azur – “Riviera” creates captivating mystery, delves into secretive art world


A still from the first season of “Riviera,” which tells the story of Georgina Clios (right), portrayed by Julia Stiles, a newlywed whose husband dies in an explosion aboard a yacht with a Russian oligarch. Iwan Rheon (left) portrays Adam, her resentful stepson. Image source: Sundance

Art theft. Secret business deals. Yacht explosions. The South of France. Sounds like the perfect soap opera, doesn’t it?

Released in 2017, Sky Atlantic’s show “Riviera” stars Julia Stiles as American art curator Georgina Clios, who investigates the mysterious death of her billionaire husband, Constantine (Anthony LaPaglia). As Georgina begins to look into the inexplicable event, she discovers that many separate threads all began with one thing: art.

Everyone around Georgina seems to have an agenda of their own; each person in the series wants something different, and it’s captivating to watch their character development throughout the show. The entire family lives in a massive villa on The French Riviera, hence the show’s title. Some of the people Georgina lives with include Constantine’s jealous ex-wife (Lena Olin), a drug-addicted stepson that took over his father’s business (Dimitri Leonidas), a bitter stepson whose work ethic has never been taken seriously (Iwan Rheon) and a security guard who engages in shady, violent dealings of his own (Yigal Naor). It becomes clear, however, that the person harboring the most secrets of all was Georgina’s ex-husband, who left behind a trail of lies, deceit and criminality. 

Although the storylines of “Riviera” are sometimes preposterous and unrealistic, it is nonetheless enjoyable entertainment. The scenery is what truly drew me in the most, as the show was shot on location in the South of France. The vineyards, beaches and towns are breathtaking, and these aspects distract viewers from the frequent absurdity of the show. Another alluring part of “Riviera” is the show’s roots in the art world; if you’re a frequent museum-goer or simply love learning about paintings in general, you will like this series.

Created by Neil Jordan, “Riviera” is essentially a well-crafted soap that revels in its ludicrous scenes and plots. Also, despite that the characters are initially presented as being cold, self-serving and unsympathetic, the audience will begin to empathize with them as the season progresses. Surprisingly, the series actually chronicles the moral descent of its protagonist, who genuinely loved her husband and was the one person in his life that didn’t try to take advantage of his wealth.  

“Riviera” can sometimes be a cheesy drama; other times, it’s a riveting mystery. I must admit that I enjoyed watching the show and binge-watched all ten episodes in just a few weeks. There are rumors that “Riviera” has been renewed for a second season, but nothing has officially been confirmed by the network. Currently, the first season can be streamed through Sundance Now and Amazon.

  • Story
  • Acting
  • Technical Quality
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact


Released by Sky Atlantic, “Riviera” is a drama that takes place in the South of France; the series stars Julia Stiles, Lena Olin, Iwan Rheon and Anthony LaPaglia.