“Lupin: Part 1 Review: Okay, You Have My Attention. Now, Give Me Part Two!”
While one part of my brain is angry and confused on why I am not writing about one of the late possible Oscar-contending releases, another part is just super happy that I decided to watch Lupin, the latest Netflix French series created and written by George Kay (Criminal: UK and Killing Eve) and François Uzan (Family Business and Que Du Bonheur) starring Omar Sy (The Intouchables and X-Men: Days of the Future Past).
Again, Netflix uses one of its best differentiating factors, well-developed and well-produced international productions. The show’s success proves, once again, that it doesn’t necessarily need Hollywood stars or English as the primal language to be entertaining and to leave viewers (like myself) with a little bit of anxiety after watching its first five episodes (the classic love/hate relationship with cliffhangers). If you are a fan of Spain’s La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) and have watched Lupin, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven’t done it, just wait until the end of the last episode.
Following the footsteps of highly praised shows such as the previously mentioned La Casa de Papel as well as Germany’s Dark, Mexico’s La Casa de las Flores, Israel’s Fauna, among others, isn’t easy. However, Lupin not only debuted inside Netflix’s Top 10 shows in most of the countries where the streamer is available but also, per Forbes, “became the first French series to enter the Top 10 list, at number 8, quickly rising to №1 over the weekend.”
As for the show itself, Sy takes on the role of Assane Diop, a professional thief that seeks revenge for his father, an immigrant from Senegal who hung himself in prison after being framed for stealing Marie Antoinette’s diamond necklace from his employer. For that, Diop employs several techniques he learned from fictional character and master of disguise, Àrsene Lupin.
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of a fictional professional burglar (never met a real one and don’t want to) is the unquestionable charm. For that, Sy does a terrific job. It’s the perfect amount of high energy displayed along with a gentle and sincere smile, and tranquility when interacting with other civilians (that, of course, changes during explosive dialogues and action scenes). Also, another big win for Sy’s interpretation is Diop’s strong presence on screen. Regardless of whom he is interacting with, he manages to steal the attention every time, in part because we’re also trying to identify the trick he just pulled.
The development of the story is well-distributed and provides just the right number of answers per episode to force you into a binge-watching mode (I can vouch for that and I hated it). Nonetheless, that’s the least a mystery/investigative narrative should do to keep the audience engaged, whether in the form of a movie, TV show, book or play. Regarding its writing, Kay and Uzan did a good job of keeping it simple and easy to digest, without the need to create super complicated tricks or illusions. That, together with the guidance of Now You See Me director, Louis Leterrier (here’s why the show resembles the 2013 American heist triller), who directed episodes one and three, generates a thrilling experience throughout the entire time, that also benefits from its perfectly placed comedy bits.
Lupin isn’t a limited series and part two (five episodes) is expected to also be released this year. However, while we wait, others apart from Netflix celebrate. In a very Queen’s Gambit-esque way, Maurice Leblanc’s novels featuring Àrsene Lupin received a major boost in sales. That leaves us with (at least) two questions, “what will happen to Assane?” and “what will the so-called Netflix effect revive next after chess boards and books? Power Rangers action figures?”