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Families Attempt to Save Their Birthright on 'Réunions' on Acorn
January 25, 2021  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

If you enjoyed The Durrells in Corfu, a sweet show that aired on PBS’s Masterpiece, a new drama along similar lines is even better.

That would be Réunions, a six-part French dramedy available Monday on Acorn.

Réunions slams two families together in an attempt to salvage a failing resort hotel on the idyllic tropical island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

As we join our story, Jérémy (Loup-Denis Elion, top) and his partner Chloé (Laëtitia Milot, top) are living in Roubaix, France. Living with them: her two teenage children from a now-ended marriage, Vanessa (Marie de Dinechin) and Maxime (Matteo Perez), plus one younger son of their own, Enzo (Mathis Larobe).

Things are not going well. They are deep in debt, foreclosure deep. Chloé doesn’t make enough as a hairdresser to pay the bills, and Jérémy, who lost his job in IT, picks up pocket change by dressing in a panda costume and handing out promotional leaflets in the village square.

They’re not living the dream.

Then Jérémy gets a call from a lawyer saying that his father died – the father with whom he has never had a single contact – and left him a half share in the hotel on Réunion.

It’s a half share because oh, by the way, Jérémy has a half-brother from this same father. That would be Antoine (Nicolas Bridet).

So Jérémy and Chloé round up the family and fly to Réunion, using money Chloé has borrowed at an exorbitant interest rate, optimistically hoping this inheritance windfall will solve all their financial problems.

The discerning viewer will be skeptical, and rightly so.

Antoine turns out to be a nice guy, and his companion, Victoire (Sara Martins), seems pleasant. They live on Réunion, where Antoine manages a hotel.

A successful hotel. Not the hotel that the brothers have inherited. That one is further down the road, falling apart and riddled with debt.

Jérémy and Chloé, of course, have no capital with which to do renovation projects, and Antoine has seen up-close how their father let the place deteriorate.

Jérémy says they should cut their losses, decline the inheritance, and head back to France. Chloé disagrees, arguing that if they go back, they will only resume their problematic life, with no money and no place to live. On Réunion, she says, they have a shot at a restart.

Antoine, seemingly a sensible and practical fellow, somewhat surprisingly buys into Chloé’s desperate plan. This leads to suspicion that things may also not be ideal in Antoine’s life, though on the surface, he seems quite well-grounded.

We should probably mention that when Jérémy and Chloé fly to Réunion, they bring along her ex, Dominique (Nicolas Chupin), a good-natured and somewhat oblivious oaf who seems primarily to function as a nanny for the kids.

So off we go.

Now, this could all turn into a silly sitcom – half Durrells and half Gilligan’s Island. It doesn’t. Even when Vanessa vows that she will sabotage everything because she just wants to get back to her friends and her 5G in Roubaix, it doesn’t simply lead to exasperating teenager jokes.

Even in the setup episode, we get a sense of dimension to the characters. They aren’t all one thing or another and none of them, even Dominique, becomes a caricature employed only to set up punchlines.

The creators say Réunions is a show about family, and that’s accurate. It’s a genuinely interesting family, led by a terrific performance from Milot as Chloé, and there’s no reason not to keep going with their rolling adventure.

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Jan 22, 2023   |  Reply
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