Final Thoughts: “Lupin” (Series One)

When we first encounter Assane Diop (Omar Sy), we see that he works as a janitor in the Louvre and as he frequently looks upon a most valuable antique necklace, he makes an audacious plan to steal it so that he can pay off his debts to some dangerous people but as the heist is undertaken, it soon becomes clear that there’s more to Assane than meets the eye and that the necklace is linked to an incident from his past, one in which his father was framed and sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. Taking a great deal of inspiration from the literary adventures of “gentleman thief” Arsène Lupin, Assane uses his nimble fingers, computer skills, gift of gab, and his mastery of disguise to constantly evade the authorities and various other pursuers, and to find out what really happened to his father so many years ago.

Consisting of only five episodes (though this may, in fact, only be part one), this Netflix original is certainly no chore to get through and although a longer series length might have resulted in further character development and a greater understanding of the characters’ relationships, the series still manages to give us a very good idea of what all these characters are about and as the series ends on a cliffhanger, further development will surely await further down the line, seeing as how this first series does indeed leave certain questions unanswered. Lupin is a well written and very breezy series to get through and it’s never boring and it all moves at an ideally brisk pace, not going overboard with its plot developments and twists, and giving us a narrative that is easy to understand and to get invested in; the first episode proves to be an enjoyable Ocean’s Eleven-type heist affair, later moving on to an episode set in a prison and then becoming a mix of police procedural and a drama in which the protagonist (together with a former investigative journalist) slowly uncovers a big conspiracy, and it ultimately proves to be a perfectly gripping little series which doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s one that’s also quite binge-able.

At the centre of Lupin, playing the roguish thief with such natural charisma and a sense of humour, is Omar Sy and he really does make the role his own here; he is naturally, incredibly cool (and not the worst looking guy in the world, either – a French Idris Elba, I’d say!) and he plays the role with tons of charm and humour – always ensuring that we’re on his side from the start and that we support him even considering his unlawful actions, pickpocketing and deceptions. Of course, he also sinks his teeth into the more dramatic/serious parts of the series and he more than delivers in these: showing all the necessary emotions and feelings as he spends time with his family, friends, and cohorts and as he strives with fierce determination to clear his father’s name and all in all, Sy presents us with a character who is crafty, cunning and clever, but one who also has a heart and who is determined to obtain justice for his father. Sy has already proven himself to be an excellent performer in films like The Intouchables and even The Call of the Wild and the series really comes to life thanks to his passionate involvement.

Supporting him, the rest of the cast back him up with very able support as we see Swimming Pool‘s Ludivine Sagnier play the role of Assane’s partner really well, showing herself to be more than capable of resisting his incorrigible charms, though the character is a ultimately tad underdeveloped, and The Returned‘s Clotilde Hesme is quite enigmatic as Assane’s former friend and heiress who displays questionable motives from time to time.

On the technical side, Lupin is shot very well as all of the heist, slight-of-hand, and various chase and misdirection sequences are stylishly put together, benefitting from slick, capable direction from both Louis Letterier and Marcela Said, and the whole series is very visually pleasing and the smooth direction and bright visuals go hand-in-hand with the gripping story and colourful characters.

An enjoyable and entertaining little series, Lupin succeeds thanks to its slick direction, absorbing story, and the central performance of its incredibly charismatic leading actor.

★ ★ ★ ★

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