The Reunion, ITVX, review: Ioan Gruffudd flounders in this sun-soaked Euro-nonsense

Ivanna Sakhno as Vinca Rockwell in The Reunion - ITV
Ivanna Sakhno as Vinca Rockwell in The Reunion - ITV

ITVX has waited until Christmas is out of the way to deliver its first turkey. The Reunion is an adaptation of a French novel and is one of those curious European productions in which the foreign cast perform perfectly well in English, yet experienced British actors behave as if they are in am-dram.

Ioan Gruffudd is Thomas, a successful novelist who returns to the French Riviera for a school reunion. Dervla Kirwan plays his mum, even though in real life she is 51 and Gruffudd is 49. Rupert Graves is his dad, with a more respectable 10-year age gap. There are frequent flashbacks, but no efforts have been made to de-age the actors, so Graves looks exactly the same age in 1997 as he does in the present day. Kirwan gets a grey wig to make her look older, but not a single wrinkle.

There are plenty of other lapses in logic. At one stage, a character crawls out of the sea then makes a call with the phone that has been underwater with him for what must be several minutes. Plus the fact that Gruffudd only travels to Cap d’Antibes for the reunion after receiving an anonymous invitation from someone saying they suspect he’s a murderer – surely staying away would have been more sensible?

The plot itself seems pretty straightforward at first: when Thomas and his best friend, Maxime (Gregory Fitoussi) were students at the college, they killed their philosophy lecturer and buried his body in the school gym. It was all to do with a beautiful young woman (Ivanna Sakhno) who is described as “serious and sensual but with a crazy streak” (she quotes poetry and has a bright red bob). She disappeared after the murder, and Thomas is desperate both to find out what happened to her, and to prevent the imminent uncovering of his crime as builders are about to redevelop that gym.

In the following episodes we encounter a homicidal doctor, Russian gangsters, a bunch of crazed feminists yelling about the patriarchy, and some Sapphic snogging (well, it is French). One minute there are perfect blue skies over Cap d'Antibes, the next there are blizzard conditions. It’s quite mad. After a while, you will almost start to enjoy how rubbish it is. Like all the worst dramas, it includes a terrible voiceover. Sample: “Love is not a tender thing. It burns through us and we are forever scorched. Vigilant for its next attack.” Righto. The only decent character is a pregnant policewoman (Shemss Audat) who deserves to be in a better show than this.