Omar Sy as Assane Diop in Netflix’s series ‘Lupin’
Lupin, a new Netflix NFLX original series from France, was released on the streaming platform this January 8. Produced by Gaumont Télévision, Lupin takes its inspiration from the very popular fictional character in France, Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief, master of disguise, created by Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900s, and gives it a little contemporary twist.
Lupin, created by George Kay (Criminal, Killing Eve), in collaboration with François Uzan (Family Business), made the clever choice not to reimagine Arsène Lupin in today’s Paris, but rather have its leading man be influenced by the fictional character. In the five episodes of Part 1 released by Netflix, Lupin follows Assane Diop (played by Omar Sy), whose life was turned upside down as a teenager when his father died after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Now, 25 years later, Assane tries to avenge his father, using the character of Arsène Lupin as his inspiration.
This is what makes Lupin such a captivating series, as the series emulates Maurice Leblanc’s work. Omar Sy’s charming charisma is also to blame here, as he perfectly captures this character. The series has received some negative reviews in France for its predictable plot, deemed too formatted for a larger international audience, but this is not so surprising considering how beloved Arsène Lupin is in France.
Lupin has already reached N°1 in Netflix’s Top 10 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Holland, and has entered the Top 10 in many other countries, including the U.K and Canada. This is a series that, besides its engrossing story of suspenseful heists and revenge, will transport viewers to the city of Paris.
Omar Sy as Assane Diop in front of Marie Antoinette’s necklace in ‘Lupin’ (Photo credit: Emmanuel … [+]
Lupin in fact opens with images of the Pyramid in front of the Louvre museum. The cleaning staff are entering the museum for their night shift. Amongst them is Luis Perenna (Omar Sy). He stops in front of the Mona Lisa, as he sweeps the floor, and then the Queen’s necklace, which is about to be auctioned. It is the necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette that he is interested in.
Luis Perenna—an anagram of Arsene Lupin, as we will later find out—is in fact Assane Diop. Obsessed by Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin, which was given to him by his father before he died, Assane uses Lupin’s tricks to pull his own heist. His ex-wife Claire (Ludivine Seignier) and his teenage son Raoul (Etan Simon) are blissfully unaware as to what Assane really does for a living, only noticing his constant unexplained absence.
As the first episode reveals, Assane has history with Marie Antoinette’s necklace and its owners, the Pelligrini family. When Assane was a teenager, his father worked for the Pelligrinis. He was though one day accused of stealing the necklace, and thrown into jail. Assane’s father was later found dead in his prison cell. He was thought to have killed himself out of shame. Using the tricks he learnt from Leblanc’s book, Assane will try and prove his father’s innocence.
Etan Simon, Ludivine Seignier and Omar Sy in ‘Lupin’ (Photo credit: Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix)
Some of the twists and turns in the first episode do seem a little obvious, but as the series progresses, Lupin reveals to be much more than a story about cleverly thought-through heists conducted by a charismatic thief with powers of seduction.
Arsène Lupin has been adapted for the screen many times from the early years of cinema’s history. The very first adaptation was during the silent era in 1909, Le voleur mondain directed by Georges Fagot and starring Max Linder. The latest adaptation in France was directed by Jean-Paul Salomé and starred Romain Duris and Kristin Scott Thomas in 2004.
What makes Lupin different from all these prior adaptations is that it places this well-known story of the gentleman thief within today’s society, highlighting the persistence of racial prejudices—the very reason why Assane’s father was so easily accused and found guilty for a crime he did not commit.
Lupin is an excellent series, full of twists and turns created in the spirit of Maurice Leblanc’s story. Hopefully Part 2 won’t take too long to be released by Netflix.