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Lupin is the story of the ever-resourceful Assane Diop, a Senegalese immigrant in Paris who employs the methods of his literary hero, gentleman thief Arséne Lupin, to investigate his late father’s conviction for a high-profile jewelry theft some 25 years prior.
Assane’s father, Babakar, committed suicide in prison, leaving a devastated 15-year-old Assane a ward of the state. Now an adult with a son of his own, Assane uses his considerable charm and his mastery of thievery, subterfuge, and disguise to uncover the ruthless, powerful aristocrat who framed his father, and then orchestrate his downfall.
Since part of Assane’s plan involves stealing—in an elaborate Louvre heist—the same jewels that vanished 25 years earlier, Assane has to unleash his revenge scheme while staying a step ahead of the police.
This is a French production, so you probably won’t know any of these actors—unless you’re big into foreign films. You might recognize the star, Omar Sy, from his smaller roles in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World. You may also know the work of film director Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me; The Transporter 1 and 2), whose sense of flair and spectacle give Lupin a sleek, big-screen feel.
Even though Assane is a career criminal, you have to admire his tenacity and cunning while appreciating his Robin Hood-approach to selecting his marks—he never swindles anyone that doesn’t deserve to be swindled. He’s also quick to reward the kindness of everyday strangers with some of his stolen largesse.
And Omar Sy, who calls to mind a younger, French-speaking Idris Elba, dazzles as Assane. He imbues the character with a swagger impressive by even confidence man standards, yet he also allows us to glimpse Assane’s inner pain, haunted by his father’s death and the countless racist taunts he endured at his orphanage and later at boarding school.
But what really elevates the series are the undercurrents of race and class running through modern-day Paris. Yes, we see characters of many backgrounds and hues in this multicultural city, but its upper echelons are occupied exclusively by its white denizens. For Assane to infiltrate these circles, the only disguise he needs is a custodian uniform or nerd glasses and an IT badge, because he understands that Paris’s working class people of color aren’t given a second glance.
Lupin is a smart, sexy, stylish French crime drama with an appealing lead and thought-provoking takes on race and class.
Since it’s in French (you can view it either with subtitles or dubbed) and contains mature themes, it’s not really geared towards kids. Definitely a good candidate for date night, and could be a big hit at ladies’ night.