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‘Lupin’: Gentleman thief gallivants around Paris

| Thursday, February 18, 2021

Maggie Klaers | The Observer

Drawing a whopping 70 million viewers on Netflix in its first month alone, French espionage thriller “Lupin” delivers an exciting and inspiring series based on the classic Arsène Lupin novels by Maurice Leblanc. Not relying on sex or violence, “Lupin” satiates consumers’ thirst for skillful acting in an original drama, and its ingenuity and twists keep its audience engaged from the beginning of the five episode series to the final episode’s cliffhanger.

Created by George Kay and François Tucson, “Lupin” draws its inspiration from Leblanc’s popular gentleman-thief novels. The caper follows Assane Diop, the son of Senegalese-immigrant and single father Babakar, who after being wrongly accused of theft commits suicide in prison. Swearing to avenge his father‘s death, Diop attempts to take down the corrupt wealthy businessman Hubert Pellegrini; inspired by the “Lupin” novel gifted to him by his father, Assane avenges with style and flair à la Danny Ocean.

The charismatic Assane avenges his father’s false accusation and subsequent suicide by slipping through high society and underground Paris. In the first episode alone, Assane secures himself a janitor position at the Louvre, plans his burglary of a stunning Marie Antoinette necklace of pearls and diamonds and attends the auction for the necklace posing as a dapperly dressed tech mogul. Assane emerges the highest bidder, to the surprise of upper-crust Parisian society, but his plan seems to go awry when assailants beat him and run away with the jewels. It is only discovered at the end of the episode that Assane had anticipated the ruffians’ betrayal, created a copy of the necklace and in the scuffle swiftly deposited the Queen’s necklace into the trash. After brushing himself off and being interrogated by the police, Assane slips through a door, only to reappear back on screen as the janitor, emptying the trash and collecting his prize. Diop walks out of the Louvre, back in his suit with the glamorous twinkling of the Louvre as his backdrop. After this first episode alone, one is hooked by Assane’s chameleon-like talent and brilliant foresight, which continues through disguises, charm and even a faked suicide.

Directors Louis Leterrier and Marcella Said brilliantly balance the lightness of Assane’s gallivanting around Paris with deep-dives into cultural issues such as fatherly responsibility, economic disparities and racial prejudice against African immigrants in France. Yet, Assane utilizes this prejudice to his benefit, going unnoticed and unmemorable to the Parisian elite.

“Lupin’s” fifth and final episode ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the audience in suspense for the release of the next five, pre-filmed episodes. As international shows grow in popularity on streaming services, “Lupin” steals the spotlight as the best of the year. A suspenseful, classic story with a complex protagonist and the fantastic acting of Omar Sy as Assane Diop, “Lupin” gives a French flavor to the heist genre, incorporating elements of romance, comedy, familial duty, friendship and justice.


TV Show: “Lupin”

Favorite Episodes: Episode 1, Episode 5

If you liked: “The Intouchables,” “Ocean’s 11”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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