REVIEW : ‘Lupin’ (2021) Uniquely Brings Life to One of French Literature’s Finest

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Omar Sy’s dazzling charisma as well as his authenticity will have you rooting for his character”

If you ask the French about some of the most iconic literary characters, chances are that the name of Arsène Lupin will come up. Master of deception and disguise, he was first brought to life in 1905 by Maurice Leblanc in a series of short stories, and later inspired many adaptations both on the big screen and on television. Earlier this month, Netflix brought us their most recent take on the ‘gentleman-burglar’ with Lupin, starring France’s national treasure and renowned actor Omar Sy in the role of Assane Diop.

Omar Sy as Assane Diop, dressed in a big black coat and leaning against a desk.
Image courtesy of Netflix

Our main character is out for revenge after an expensive piece of jewelry that his father supposedly stole from the Pellegrini family makes its way back to the spotlight and is being auctioned to the highest bidder. Assane takes after the elusive French figure and switches up identities and anagram names at will, one minute a night-time cleaner at the Louvre, the other a wealthy socialite ready to put his money where his mouth is. His ability to think on the spot and talk himself out of risky situations makes the show entertaining and fast-paced, and Sy’s dazzling charisma as well as his authenticity will have you rooting for his character to succeed.

The series is particularly engaging because of what is at its core: passion. In flashbacks, we can see a younger Assane (Mamadou Haïdara) left to fend for himself after his father gets imprisoned and later ends his life in his jail cell. The boy develops a fascination for the literary figure, taking away many life lessons from him. In fact, Arsène is all Assane can talk about, mentioning references and plot points from the short stories anytime he gets the chance, which a lot of us can heavily relate to. In more ways than one, the elegant literary figure will bring the characters together. In the present, Assane uses the character as a way to reconnect with his son Raoul (Etan Simon), with whom he is estranged because of his how elusive and unreliable he has been in recent years. And when the boy becomes enthralled with the story, it is a joy to see the both of them bond over it.

Omar Sy as Assane Diop, dressed as a janitor, surrounded by paintings in the Louvre.
Image courtesy of Netflix

The series masterfully weaves together the contemporary Parisian setting and at times topical issues that are being tackled nowadays, while intricately hinting at some of Arsène’s most famous adventures, bringing life to one of French literature’s finest and propelling the audience in the captivating cat and mouse game the characters are involved in.

Dir: Marcela Said, Louis Leterrier, Ludovic Bernard

Prod: George Kay

Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Soufiane Guerrab,…

Release Date: 2021

Available on: Netflix