The Romanoffs : Should we watch Matthew Weiner’s new series?

The creator of Mad Men returns with this anthology that follows heroes believing descending from the tsarist dynasty. An ambitious millefeuille of intrigues and genres that sometimes makes us graze indigestion. To discover on Amazon Prime Video.

One hundred years after their assassination under the bullets of the Bolsheviks, the Romanovs continue to fascinate. The dynasty inspires the new series of Mad Men’s creator, Matthew Weiner. The Romanoffs is a big bet for its broadcaster, the SVOD platform Amazon Prime Video, which has paid $ 50 million for eight episodes. The first two components are online Friday. Will follow an adventure a week thereafter. A welcome parsimony: the first episodes are each 90 minutes! An indulgence not always justified and digestible. Exceptional, the anthology follows around the globe characters who believe themselves descended from the last Russian tsars.

At each plot, the actors, locations and genres discussed change. Paris, Austria, Mexico, United States, Hong Kong … Matthew Weiner invites to a world tour. Its distribution is the same: Diane Lane, Isabelle Huppert, Marthe Keller, Aaron Eckhart. Not to mention veterans of Mad Men  : John Slattery and Christina Hendricks.

“The format of the anthology came to me during discussions with my friends. There are so many series that no one looks the same. Can not share his experience. With The Romanoffs , everyone can come and go, “explained Matthew Weiner at the Amazon seminar held in early October in London. The link between his eight stories? The quest for origins, the sense of belonging to a family. The showrunner who made the whole of the first season to decipher: “What fascinated me about the Romanovs, besides their bloody end, is their omnipotence for centuries. Suddenly, they are nothing! Our pseudo-descendants have in common to behave like great beings to whom everything is due. But their banality frustrates them.

The Violet Hour, which takes place in Paris and opens hostilities, depicts an old lady, camped by Marthe Keller, hypochondriac, snobbish and racist who tyrannizes his housekeepers. The newcomer Hajar (Ines Melab) is fresh but not impressed. This pilot summarizes the beauty and grandiloquence of the series. Beautifully shot and played. But who still enjoys his splendor. Clichés about the French capital are not totally avoided. Think of a nice romantic night stroll on the banks of the Seine, as Woody Allen loves, and a femme fatale, played by Louise Bourgoin freewheeling. Between a merry fairy tale and acid satire, the intrigue struggles to fix itself.

A season 2 envisaged

Of the three episodes sent to critics, House of Special Purpose suggests that, mastered well, The Romanoffs knows how to accomplish great television hours and be more than just a creative whim. Isabelle Huppert and Christina Hendricks watch each other in an explosive confrontation between an authoritarian director and her actress. Some will see it as an abyss. In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, Matthew Weiner has been accused by female harassers and “emotional terrorists for getting what he wants.” The Romanoffs is a box of chocolates. You have to find the right one. He who corresponds in any case to his tastes. A lack of unanimity that does not bother Matthew Weiner, ready to embark on a season 2.

In the first episode of “The Violet Hour”, shot in Paris, Matt Weiner chose a Haussmann-style bourgeois apartment inhabited by Anushka (Marthe Keller), a racist and depressive widow descended from the Romanoffs who persecute Hajar (Ines Melab) her ultra competent but, to his great despair, Muslim. She can only count on the last living member of her family, her nephew Greg (Aaron Eckart) and his girlfriend Sophie (Louise Bourgoin) who also live in Paris and anxiously wait for her to break her pipe to recover her beautiful apartment. This driver still lasts 1h20 and between strolls on the banks of the Seine and the pomp of the building, it’s like in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris . The tone of the and we will also remember the name of her co-star, Inès Melab, a young 25-year-old French actress we should soon see again on our screens.

In the second episode titled “The Royal We”, which resembles a dark romantic comedy, we find Corey Stoll (House of Cards) and Kerry Bishé ( Halt and Catch Fire)playing a couple adrift while the husband ( a Romanoff) is called to be sworn at a trial. Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men will easily be recognized . Out of spite, his wife leaves alone on vacation, a thematic cruise on the royal family. Separated geographically, Michael and Shelly will both be tempted …

Overall, the series is well watched despite scenes eagerly awaited, sometimes rough dialogue and episodes of 90 minutes with a few lengths . As the very rhythmic trailer put the main emphasis on this royal filiation, we expected that the scenario speaks much more of that but finally it is a good pretext (or not) to talk about inheritance, transmission or still identity. We wait to see the next episodes to see how the link will be made between all these stories other than that of blood. But also to find the paw Weiner that was too discreet for our taste in the first two episodes.
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