Netflix’s Lupin is a new highly binge-able French series that will keep you on your toes. The quiet, stylish drama explores the life of Assane Diop, a gentleman thief.
The Story Of Lupin
The origins of the series lies in a series of books about the gentleman burglar Arséne Lupin by Maurice LeBlanc. Assane’s father gives him one of these books just before he dies, and it becomes the boy’s bible, a guide to life. Assane studies the book, reading it over and over again to learn Lupin’s principles and tricks. As an adult, he goes through life assuming different identities to find the information he’s looking for.
And what he’s looking for is the proof that his father died an innocent man. Babakar Diop was a chauffeur to the very wealthy Pellegrini family when he was accused of stealing their most prized possession: The Queen’s Necklace. The necklace was said to have belonged to Marie Antionette, and then Napoleon. A struggling immigrant from Senegal and single father, Babakar was manipulated into signing a confession by the Pellegrinis, and hanged himself in his cell. Assane is orphaned at 14, and grows up thinking that his father was a criminal.
But not all is as it seems. The necklace suddenly resurfaces 25 years after the theft, and will be put up for auction by the Pellegrinis to benefit their daughter, Juliette’s new foundation. This drags Assane back into the mystery that shaped his young life, and there are many new clues to be found.
What Makes The Show Good?
The story of Lupin is already intriguing, but the mood and style of the show really make it stand out. Assane’s life story may be dark, but it is so much fun watching him hoodwink people and pull off intricate plans to find the truth. The series first feels at times like Oceans 11, a Sherlock Holmes mystery and a spy thriller. Anyone who likes a little drama with their action will like this show. The style is similar to that of the BBC’s Sherlock. Dark colors and quiet mystery are mixed with a great soundtrack, fun characters and a sprinkle of humor. Lupin is dark but doesn’t take itself so seriously that it isn’t fun to watch.
The character of Assane drives the show for almost all of the series, and he is played with a perfect blend of quiet confidence and charisma by Omar Sy. Sy has previously had parts in The Intouchables and Jurassic World. Assane is a difficult character to capture because he is constantly taking on new identities. His smoothness and general attitude carry over into all of his characters, and Sy does a great job of making sure Assane seems like the same person to the viewer even though he is always in different disguises. He is supported by the few characters who know Assane’s true identity. His ex, Claire, and son Raoul, are perhaps the most interesting secondary characters. Claire, played by Ludivine Sagnier, has been putting up with Assane’s mysterious line of work for many years and has run out of patience for him not putting their son first. She’s not angry, just over it. The audience is confronted by the fact that even Claire, who knows Assane best, doesn’t know half of what Assane is doing or much about his past, despite knowing him for 25 years.
The Themes Of Lupin
Although the action and heist elements of the series are at the forefront, the themes lie in a deeper place. The most prominent motif in the show is about fathers and their children. Assane’s relationship with his father and search for the truth about him is directly at the center of the story. He must know whether his father was innocent, and wants revenge on the man who put him in prison, Hubert Pellegrini. Assane’s relationship with his own son, Raoul, often takes a backseat to his pursuit of the truth. His pursuit of vengeance is leading him away from what is really important, Raoul getting to have a father when Assane did not.
The other most significant parent-child relationship in the story is the one between Juliette and Hubert Pellegrini. In Juliette’s first scene with her mother, Anne, her mother tells her, “You are either with him, or against him.” Juliette is clearly with her father, as they are starting this foundation together, with the sale of the necklace. However, Hubert is at times violent and unstable, waving his walking stick in the air to intimidate Juliette. She chooses over and over again throughout the five episodes to believe him and believe he is a good person, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
What Doesn’t Work About The Show
There are places the series falls slightly flat as well. The police investigation is fairly boring, once the viewer has seen Assane outwit them a few times. The police commissioner, Dumont, was involved in Assane’s father’s imprisonment, but doesn’t seem ruthless enough to have taken part in it and other corruption. He appears as more of a sympathetic character than he should. Detective Yousseff Guedira, played by Soufiane Guerrab, is the only police officer who suspects Assane, and recognizes many of his schemes from the Arséne Lupin books. Every other officer thinks Guedira is crazy, even though all of Assane’s known aliases are anagrams of Arséne Lupin’s name. His theory does sound a little crazy, but with the amount of times Assane shows his real face during his illegal activities and his immediate connection to the crime at hand, Guedira might have caught on to him a little sooner.
Lupin is a solid series that is certainly worth a watch. If you enjoy a good mystery, tune in for some fun and some thrills. Season two has just been confirmed, so don’t worry too much about having only five episodes. There’s more mystery to come.