When Marie Antoinette's (the famous 18th century French Queen) stunning necklace is put up for auction at the Louvre, you won't expect a security breach. And certainly, you won't expect the gentleman who just put a bid of €60 million on the necklace to steal it!
Watch the trailer of "Lupin" here
Yet, that's exactly how Netflix's latest hit 'Lupin' begins. The intriguing opening is followed by an engaging storyline that has been inspired by the adventures of the famous fictional character Arsène Lupin, created a century ago by the French author Maurice Leblanc. Leblanc's character, known as the 'gentleman thief', is a popular one in France and the books regarding him remind the readers of Sherlock Holmes' wit and showmanship at times, as does the show itself.
Assane Diop, the protagonist of the show who is played by the brilliant actor Omar Sy, is a fan of Lupin and as he mentions:
"He's my heritage, my method. I am Lupin"
Assane uses the fictional character Lupin's methods for a very real goal. As the show shifts from one timeline to another, we get a glimpse at Assane's past.
As a young Senegalese immigrant, he arrived in Paris with his father Babakar Diop. Babakar, an honest and sincere person, tried to raise his son by working as a chauffeur for a rich Parisian business family - the Pellegrini's - where he gets framed for theft. His subsequent suicide in jail led Assane to investigate and punish those who framed Babakar.
But 'Lupin' is not only a revenge story, far from it. It's also a heartwarming tale of a wronged man who is trying to set everything right and at the same time, lives his own life as a husband and a father.
The show also hints at innate social issues like racism and bears references of colonial heritages, which are presented in witty and engaging ways.
Omar Sy's portrayal of Assane Diop is at times reminiscent of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock and at times, Idris Elba's Luther – both of which are considered successful and much-loved mystery thrillers. Yet, Lupin is unique with its witty dialogues and simple yet intriguing plotline. The city of Paris serving as the backdrop makes it visually appealing as well.
The background music perfectly compliments the story as does Hervé Pierre's portrayal of Hubert Pellegrini, the antagonist. Pellegrini is a middle-aged bespectacled Parisian gentleman, and yet he is the all-controlling vengeful criminal mastermind whose cynical smirks send shivers down the viewers' spines. The way he blackmails investigating officer Dumont into submission and frames his innocent chauffeur, among other crimes, leads the audience to concede that Assane's adaptation of Lupin's methods might not be the worst idea to bring a man like Pellegrini down.
But method only isn't enough for Assane, he needs other skills too to take someone so powerful and shrewd like Pellegrini down. Luckily, he gets plenty of that as well. A 6'3'' Senegalese man who can disappear in plain sight, and be quite sturdy in a fight is a treat to watch. He can be ruthless and kind at the same time. Assane's all that and more, he is an artist. Also, his witty reactions in tight situations are fun to watch.
Other actors like Soufiane Guerrab as Investigator Youssef Guedira and Ludivine Sagnier as Assane's estranged wife Claire play pivotal roles too, as do the teenage actors who portray Assane and Claire in the flashbacks.
All these make 'Lupin' a good watch, which is further helped by the fact that it only comprises five episodes each spanning 43-50 minutes. Though the series is made in French, It does feature subtitles of various languages and an English dub!
But the biggest drawback is the series, like most other recent Netflix shows, ends in a cliffhanger, which will keep the viewers waiting patiently, or if you are like me, impatiently for the next season.
The show has received critical acclaim from many respected critics and reviewing outlets. It's rated 7.7 out of 10 on IMDB and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Also, saying that regular viewers also like the show might be an understatement, since it has been praised and rated highly by all kinds of viewers throughout the globe.
Since its release on Jan 8 2021, the show has been streamed by over 65 million people breaking the records set by shows like The Queen's Gambit (62 million views in the first month) and the fourth season of The Money Heist (65 million views in the first month). Netflix estimates the show will hit 70 million views within the first 28 days, making it the most-watched show till now on Netflix!
The gentleman thief's intriguing actions, the show's stunning visuals and a touching storyline have made the thriller all the more favourable to the viewers. Anyone who's a fan of detective stories, thrillers or just looking for an engaging yet simple plot should find it here. It's heartwarming, funny and delightfully surprising at times, as Assane reminds us:
"Lupin's greatest talent, without a doubt, was to always be one step ahead."