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TV Series Review: Lupin (Part 1)

IMDb Link: Lupin (TV Series 2021- )
Distributor: Netflix
Creator: George Kay
Stars: Omar Sy, Vincent Londez, Ludivine Sagnier

Synopsis: Inspired by the adventures of Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief Assane Diop (Sy) sets out to avenge his father for an injustice inflicted by a wealthy family.

I was not aware of the adventures of Lupin before I clicked play on the show. All I knew about the show Lupin before entering was that it was a new show from Netflix in French and the stunning poster that was used to market the show. I have been wanting to branch out and explore foreign TV just as I have done with films over the past few years, so this one grabbed my attention. I am glad that Netflix is taking risks with their TV line-up and giving shows like these a large platform for millions to enjoy.

Right from the offset, it is easy to engage with the premise of the show. The first episode does a lot of the heavy lifting, establishing the character of Assane Diop and the relationships that he has, particularly with his ex-wife and son. It also does well to show off what he can do and what the main premise of the show is, doing it on such a grand scale by setting it at the Louvre. Within a few minutes of seeing Diop in the Louvre, you know this show is going to go big and tell an epic story whilst doing so.

Omar Sy is not a new face to the scene, having been in films such as Call of the Wild (2020) and Jurassic World (2015). However, he is a breath of fresh air as he gives so much charisma to the character of Assane Diop. He is incredibly easy to watch in this series as he plays it cool and low-key, having fun with the material he is given. He is also able to pull off the dramatic moments, adding weight to the narrative and the reason his character is doing all of these schemes.

My big worry going into this series was that it would be a one-trick pony situation where they repeat schemes and run into cliches quite quickly. However, the show manages to tell a different chase story in every episode, and when a formula is repeated it is twisted to another perspective. The best use of the schemes comes in the third episode, where the show makes use of current technology and becomes creative with endless possibilities whilst still making it feel believable.

There are numerous shows that have done the cat-and-mouse structure of the criminal versus the police. It is interesting to twist the perspective and to primarily focus on the criminal and how they pull it off, and yet still have the scenes with the police working on catching Assane. I am glad that they did not dumb the police down entirely, making it believable that Assane is actually a genius and not getting away with these crimes so easily.

Throughout numerous episodes, the show heavily develops the relationship between Assane and his ex-wife, Claire. This is a nice change of pace to the show, as well as add a narrative as to why he is passionate about getting justice for his own father. These segments are sometimes told in flashbacks, looking back at when Assane and Claire were teenagers and first started getting feelings for each other. Not only are these moments really sweet, they also add context to the characters’ backgrounds and gives the audience a look into Assane’s relationship with his father.

The show is extremely tight, only consisting of five episodes in this part. There is no time for fillers or distraction, with each move and scheme building up to a bigger picture. If there was a comparison I would make between this show and another; it would be BBC’s Sherlock. Not only are both of these shows clever with the script, but limiting the amount of numbers makes the story flow nicer and has a direct focus on character development and narrative, putting quality over quantity.

If I was to pinpoint a favourite episode of the series, it would be the final episode. Chapter 5 of the story takes a slightly different approach to the storytelling, becoming more focused on his relationship with his ex-wife and child than the schemes of his father. This has a different tone, giving the audience time to connect properly with Assane and see who he is as a person, rather than just a genius behind these plans. Whilst remaining spoiler-free, I also loved how this season ends and I require a part two to this show as quickly as I can get it. This is one that cannot be left as a one-season show.

So, it is safe to say that I heavily recommend anyone to check out Lupin. There is something here for everyone to enjoy, whether you want a show that is clever with the script and has fun with the narrative and schemes, or whether you want a story that has this overlying arc with compelling character development and heartfelt moments. The story is told in just under four hours, so it is a quick watch for an evening if you are struggling to find your next binge on Netflix.

Lupin (Part 1) is available to watch on Netflix.

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