Netflix’s ‘Lupin’ is so good, it’s criminal

Nicole Posont, Staff Writer

Netflix’s biggest hit from France, “Lupin” is a gripping crime drama that is perfectly smart. The streaming platform released five episodes of the first season on Jan. 8.

Episode one opens with the Queen’s necklace up for auction. Hearing this, Assane Diop (Omar Sy) sets out to mastermind a plan to avenge his father (Fargass Assandé) by stealing the artifact. His father died in his cell after being wrongly convicted of stealing the necklace in Assane’s youth. Finding inspiration from the famous Arsène Lupin novels, Diop begins a journey to find out the truth about his father, all the while facing the reality of his past along the way. 

This Netflix original takes a clever spin on early 20th-century writer Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin series. The character’s fame began in those early short stories, published in the French magazine “Je Sais Tout.” 

 Leblanc’s “gentleman burglar” character is featured in 24 books, of which 17 are novels, and six are a compilation of 39 short stories and novellas. Now considered a French classic, Arsène Lupin is a household name in France.

Netflix’s Diop, similar to Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin, is a criminal with class. Anyone who is a fan of Sherlock Holmes will appreciate Diop’s stylish rebellion. Diop’s elaborate plans require code names, secret cameras, and above all, sophistication.

French actor, writer, producer, and comedian Sy’s portrayal of Diop is stunningly convincing, bringing the morally twisted main character to life. Diop carries the audience along to view each corner of the criminal’s psyche. From heartfelt scenes with his son (Etan Simon) to intense fight scenes, Sy brilliantly captures the essence of Diop. 

The many action scenes are beautifully shot, provoking “Wow!” moments. Paris, the setting and filming location of this series, is also far from neglected, with many images of exciting architecture finding their way into the narrative. 

The series includes a soundtrack that may seem familiar. Featuring artists such as the Arctic Monkeys, The Rolling Stones and Leon Bridges, the show avoids the charting songs, skillfully making the soundtrack recognizable, yet not trendy.  

This is a French series, meaning that the original dialogue is in French. There are options for English subtitles and English voice-over. The dialogue is not complicated and can sometimes lack depth, however, this could merely be an effect of the language barrier. Charms of the French language aren’t lost, however, as small greetings in the original language have stayed in the English dub. Intricate plot points are nicely conveyed through the voice-over, while the subtitles occasionally distract from the impressive visuals.    

Throughout the series, Diop’s journey points out the effect of racism and class structure on his life. Recalling his memories through finding out about his father’s arrest covers current issues such as privilege. The creators, George Kay and François Uzan allow the crime drama to explore the farthest corners of every character to highlight these issues all while maintaining an entertaining plot. 

The first part of this series leaves the audience with a cliffhanger, creating the urge to keep watching. Viewers may not be kept in suspense for long though, because the remaining five episodes of season one are already filmed, and Netflix is hinting at releasing part two sometime this year.