29 November 2008 | ruthierocks
Avoid at all costs
I get tired of watching films that try to be too "arty." Riviera, a film that, if done right, could have been decent or even good, suffers from this problem. What essentially should have been a character study about an off-kilter mother and her wild teenage daughter became a tedious, pretentious bore. The film is not very long, but I had trouble maintaining my focus on it, taking breaks every few minutes because it was that unbearable. The only thing that saves it is the fact that the two lead actresses did very well and were convincing in their roles, despite those roles lacking any sort of substance. Riviera is a train wreck of a film and should be avoided at all costs.
The story is not a unique one. Riviera is basically the story of a middle aged mother, Antoinette (Miou-Miou), who works as a maid in hotels. She's a bit unstable, depending on her daughter Stella (Vahina Giocante) to provide meaning in her life. Stella, however, is branching out on her own. She works nights as a go-go dancer in a club frequented by all kinds of shady men. Stella is obviously trying to get away from her mother, spending less and less time with her. Antoinette is upset by this, calling her daughter all the time and asking about her every move. Eventually, Stella meets a real estate agent who is staying at the Grand Hotel, where her mother works. He's considerably older than her, but he seems to be falling for her. His interest turns to obsession and things pan out of control for both mother and daughter.
As I stated previously, the film's only highlights are the performances by Vahina Giocante and Miou-Miou as the mother/daughter duo. The two are only seen together in one scene, but the relationship between the two is evident through other scenes. Miou-Miou especially is effective. She shows her character's inner struggle by her expressions and words. These are the film's only real assets and the writer/director is crazy to have not given the two actresses more scenes together to exploit the chemistry.
The film does not work on so many levels. Stella, the daughter, does not show enough character for the audience to really care what happens to her. She's not the most likable person in the world and I felt very indifferent during the film's climax, not really caring what happened to the girl either way. The scene I'm referring to is supposed to shock the audience as it shocked the character, but it's easy to see where the film is going. I rolled my eyes at the predictability of the whole thing. The film also suffers from too much emphasis on sex. Sometimes this is OK in a film, but several of the sexual scenes in this film did nothing to further the plot and left the film at a standstill until these scenes were finished.
I guess it's obvious that I did not enjoy Riviera. It's a boring, overly long film even for it's short running time. It's easy to see why the film has not garnered enough recognition to merit even a single review that I've found. This is one that is definitely best if forgotten.