Netflix’s new French series is a charming and well-acted update of the gentleman thief.
Part One of the French series Lupin was released on Netflix on 8 January, and has quickly made its way into the top 10 shows on Netflix for multiple countries, grappling with Bridgerton for the first place spot in many cases. This series, starring Omar Sy, has been well received and is currently the most popular French series on Netflix, which I attribute to its outstanding performances, fast-paced yet mysterious plotline, the beautiful cityscape of Paris, and the clever, ingenious characters.
The plot of the series revolves around Assane, a thief who hides his identity as he embarks on a mission to discover the truth about his deceased father and a necklace his father allegedly stole. Assane uses the children’s book Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar, the story of a thief that was given to Assane by his father, as an inspiration for his conniving quests: like Lupin, Assane is always one step ahead of his rivals, managing to succeed in his pursuits through the use of disguises, the help of his friends, sheer cleverness and, at times, a little bit of luck.
The element of the children’s novel adds a childlike haze to the film, allowing the plot to mimic that of a children’s mystery tale, which establishes a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. While there is a clear villain, side-kick and mission, there are also other characters that make this series more complex than your typical children’s story, such as multiple detectives (one of whom gets closer and closer to catching Assane and another two who are constantly falling for Assane’s tricks), Assane’s ex-lover (who is the daughter of the villain), and an old prisoner who helps Assane on his journey to discover the truth about his father. Assane’s character is also quite complex as his morality is skewed; while he is a thief, he only steals from those who can truly afford it (much like Robin Hood) and his thievery is done for moral reasons, such as to support his family and best friend and to avenge his father’s death. Assane is charming, intelligent, and likeable, which is observed by both the viewers and the other characters in the show. However, there are moments where Assane’s inner frustrations reveal a darker side of him, making us question the true purity of his character. This characterisation makes him personable and intriguing.
This series will have you on the edge of your seat, held in suspense as you eagerly wait to see if Assane’s plans work. You will feel as though you are teetering on the edge of a cliff as you are often only let in on a small part of Assane’s plans, and not informed of the entirety until after he succeeds. This structure leads us to be prepared for Assane’s downfall at any moment, oftentimes thinking that he is finally going to face the consequences of his actions, which leaves us surprised each time he gets away.
Lupin is full of action, including fight scenes, chase scenes, death, kidnappings, and romance. It uses scenes from the present as well as many scenes from Assane’s childhood and early adult life; the use of flashbacks allows us as viewers to slowly understand Assane’s true character, a true character that Assane hides from the rest of the world. The cinematography is well done, with interesting shots and angles, intelligent use of colour, and genius costume design. While the show can be frustrating as Assane unrealistically gets away with most of his endeavours, it is anything but predictable and will keep you hooked.
Part One of this series only contains five episodes, and I will warn that the final episode ends on quite a cliff-hanger. I am eagerly waiting for the next part to be released, so I strongly urge you to go watch this amazing series if you haven’t already!