Assan Diop (Omar Sy), a native of Senegal, works as a cleaner at the Louvre. He owes money to local bandits and they threaten to kill Assan. To pay off his debt, Assan proposes to the bandits to steal the necklace of the French Queen Marie Antoinette. This necklace belongs to the wealthy Pellegrini family: once upon a time, the necklace was stolen, but the family managed to return the necklace many years later and is now putting it up for auction.
The bandits love the idea of stealing a diamond necklace worth a lot of money, and Assan has a well-thought-out heist plan. Of course, it was a bad idea on Assan’s part to sign bandits who cannot be trusted for the robbery, however, with Assan himself, everything is not so simple.
In fact, he is not a janitor at all. Once upon a time, Assan’s father Babakar (Fragasse Assand) worked for Monsignor Hubert Pellegrini (Herve Pierre), and little Assan was part of the Pellegrini family and even made friends with little Juliette (Clotilde Esme). When the necklace went missing, Hubert accused Babacar of stealing it. He signed a confession, he was sent to prison, where Babakar hanged himself in a cell, leaving a letter to his son, in which he claimed that he was innocent.
In order to somehow distract himself after the death of his father, Assan became interested in reading the stories of the writer Maurice Leblanc about the adventures of the “gentleman robber” Arsene Lupine: a master of reincarnations who robbed the rich and helped the poor.
And when Assan grew up, he himself became a kind of modern “Arsène Lupine”. His main task is to figure out what happened to the necklace many years ago, find out who exactly is guilty of his father’s death, and punish those responsible.
The streaming service Netflix is trying to expand the geography of films and series that are shown on it, and offers more and more projects from Europe and Asia. Moreover, some of them become downright super hits, as was the case with the Spanish TV series “Paper House”, the Korean TV series “The Squid Game”, the German TV series “Darkness” and some other regional projects.
And now – a super-successful French series that has already entered the Top 10 in many countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Philippines – and which was watched by about 70 million users in the first 28 days of the show.
The showrunner of the series is screenwriter and producer George Kay (he, by the way, is one of the screenwriters of the Killing Eve series and the Criminal project), and among the directors is Louis Letterier, who directed The Illusion of Deception.
By the way, interestingly, the original “Arsène Lupine” was also originally a kind of literary series: issues with sequels were published in the French magazine “Je sais tout” in the summer of 1905.
This series is not a modern adaptation of the adventures of Arsène Lupine (like, for example, the British Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman), although the kidnapping of Marie Antoinette’s necklace clearly alludes to the novels “The Queen’s New Necklace” and “The Countess of Cagliostro”. It’s just that Assan Diop is inspired by the adventures of Arsene Lupin, tries to act like Arsene Lupin, and references to the original stories are often found in the series.
The creators of the series managed to find a good balance between a detective story (Assan is investigating an old story with a missing necklace), a story about revenge, spectacular robberies and at the same time the psychology of various complex but interesting relationships. In addition, flashbacks here tell a lot about Assan’s youth (young Diop is played by Mamadou Aydar), about his friendship with classmate Benjamin (Antoine Gouy), who then began to actively help adult Assan in his antics, classmate Claire (Ludivine Sagnier), who later became his wife, and that same daughter of Pellegrini Juliette.
Plus – this is all, of course, an entertaining movie that does not pretend to be any kind of authenticity, so Assan conducts his robberies with the ease and grace of some James Bond, and if he needs to go to jail to get some information, then He sits there as he will leave, there are no problems. And the Parisian police, chasing Assan for a long time, but unsuccessfully, will constantly sit in a puddle, then in a galosh, then in a holey phaeton.
The famous art of disguise by Arsène Lupine is played up here not so much with really tricky makeup, although this is demonstrated a couple of times in the series, but with the idea that in reality, few people pay attention to cleaners, couriers and other lower-level workers.
And the creators of the series even released a funny video in which Omar Sy, under the guise of an advertising poster, hangs a hefty poster of the Lupin series, on which he is depicted in full growth, and no one in the subway notices him.
By the way, about Omar Sy. Senegalese-born French actor Omar Sy captivated the audience with an absolutely wonderful role in the film “Intouchables”, which our blockhead distributors called “1 + 1” (because they called “The Untouchables” a stupid French film whose name translates as “Lyons”), and then it seemed that the actor had a great future – with his charisma and charm. Interestingly, this was not his debut, he had previously starred in a couple of dozen films, but in very small episodic roles, but there was practically the main role.
However, oddly enough, after such success, he got either small roles in Hollywood blockbusters, or the main roles in all sorts of utter nonsense, like “Samba” (it was directed by “1 + 1” directors Nakash and Toledano, but they have nothing decent from this idea did not work out), a terribly weak movie “2 + 1” with a miserable script, or “Daddy’s Daughter”, which was already directed by Khazanavichus himself, but the movie has a rating below the baseboard, and I did not watch it so as not to be upset – that’s enough me bad projects with Omar Sy, give me a good one at last!
Well, with the TV series “Lupin”, thank God, Omar Sy finally found the same project! Because here the script is good, and the production, and the role, apparently, was written just for him, and he played it just fine: everything works here – his charm, and the ability to convey the nuances of various emotions, and charisma, etc. .. in general, it was his role, he played it just fine! Bublik and I were really happy for him, because it was a shame that after such a take-off with “Intouchables”, such an outstanding and bright actor still could not find himself. But here it turned out, as we believe, one hundred percent!
I really liked Ludivine Sagnier, who played Assan’s ex-wife Claire, whose feelings for him clearly, as they say, have not dried up. It was played very well there: she clearly understands that Assan is not the kind of person who can be a good husband for her and a normal father for their child, but they maintain a good relationship and several very nice episodes are connected with this.
Among the group of police chasing Assan, Sofyan Gerrab stood out, playing Yusef Gedira, a fan of the stories about Arsene Lupin. He just well understood the motives and scheme of Assan’s actions, only no one really listened to him.
Hervé Pierre, as Monsignor Hubert Pellegrini, was quite convincing in the paradigm of the given style, but he lacked a twisted mustache that he could twist at the moment of making particularly vile decisions.
Why was this series so successful in different countries? Yes, because it is built according to the completely international laws of a good entertainment series, because it involves good actors, and Omar Sy really shines here, and because France and Paris are shown here specifically for foreigners: Paris, antique shops, bistros, museums, architecture, the coast of Etretat, closely associated with the author of “Arsène Lupine” (in the last episode of the first season) – except that there is not enough cafeshantan, although, probably, everything has somehow become irrelevant with the cafechantan. But few foreigners will appreciate a dog named Jacqueuse, but the old moviegoer cat Bublik knows what they were hinting at.
The story told in the series is divided into two seasons of five episodes. The first season on Netflix was shown in January 2021, the second season – only six months later. The first season just sort of ends at the most interesting and dramatic point – you should keep this in mind, so it would be good to watch both seasons in a row and without a break.
The story is over, but the sequel could be quite promising, so Netflix ordered filming for at least another third season, about which there is no information yet.
But the first two seasons, in my opinion, are very much worth watching – well done, we really enjoyed it. So don’t miss out.
Lupine / Lupin
Directed by: George Kay Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Herve Pierre, Sofiane Gerrab, Etan Simon, Shirin Boutella, Vincent Londeze, Clotilde Esme, Antoine Gouy, Mamadou Aidara, Fragasse Assand
Series, France-USA, 2021, 45 min. Crime detective, 2 seasons 5 episodes each