Wit means to be a mister burglar? The epithet traditionally describes Arsène Lupine, the famous literary creation of Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941), who is also the main inspiration of this Netflix series and its protagonist Assane Diop (Omar Sy). It is even the subject of a song that we hear in a climactic scene, released by French crooner Jacques Dutronc in 1973.
But is not it mister burglar – “gentleman burglar” – a contradiction in terms? A flash of Assane’s smile can usually allay such qualms, and the spell still lasts long enough for him to implement his latest elaborate ruse. The first five episodes of Lupine, collectively titled Part 1, have been watched by over 70 million homes worldwide since launching in January, making it the streaming service’s biggest non-English success to date. . The winning combination of charismatic star and stage illusionist visuals in an iconic urban setting is comparable to the BBC’s Sherlock in London. Where Lupine surpasses its English counterpart is in its effortlessly chic update of the revered source material.
Our modern-day Lupine swaps the top hat and monocle for a flat cap and Air Jordans, which he wears as lightly as the social themes that underlie the series. Assane Diop is the son of Babakar Diop (Fargass Assandé) an intelligent and principled Senegalese immigrant who made a living as a chauffeur for the rich and avid Parisian big hat Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre). That is, until Pellegrini accused Diop Sr of theft as part of an insurance scam, which led to Diop Jr being orphaned. Now, Assane mends those past wrongs with postcolonial panache – by robbing the rich and redistributing the profits among his half-world friends. Above all, he never resorts to violence. Charm and meticulous planning are always enough.
If Part 2 has one flaw, it’s only that it looks like it is: a continuation of the previous series, rather than an adventurous leap in a different direction. Assane is still subject to the same racism and classism (never be an unknown black man walking into a bar in a Norman village), but his growing notoriety makes it harder to take advantage of these prejudices. It was easy to be a master of disguise when the cops couldn’t seem to distinguish one black man from another, allowing him to go unnoticed among the almost invisible underclass of the town’s cleaners and cooks. Now, there’s a specific photofit going around, and the kidnapping of Assane’s teenage son, Raoul (Etan Simon) has upped the ante.
“It’s not a game,” reprimands Assane, Lupin’s cop and other fanboy, Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab). It might not be a game, but it’s still a lot of fun. These new episodes involve a spooky, underground jaunt into the catacombs of Paris, a high-speed heist at the Musée d’Orsay, and nightly chases along the Seine.
“Gentleman” was once the term Ms. Pellegrini and her ilk used to sponsor any black men they deemed servile enough. Now, the show seems more interested in how this “gentleman” label applies – or not – to Assane’s treatment of women. Like Guedira, we can now be comfortably assured that our hero “does not kill.” He’s a burglar gentleman! (Indeed, this is the guy who pauses in the middle of the fight to tactfully suggest that the shooter might want to unlock the safety catch on his weapon.) The question is, would Assane break a heart if he did. was advancing his plan? And how are we supposed to feel about it?
Raoul’s mother Claire (Ludivine Sagnier) isn’t a snapshot of a despised woman, but as the flashbacks fill some backdrops, it’s clear that even her laid-back indulgence for the lovable thug routine has his limits. Then there is Juliette Pellegrini (Clotilde Hesme). Is Assane’s enemy’s daughter his friend? Genuine love interest? Or just a convenient pawn in his revenge plot? And even if it is a mutually respectful relationship, it suffices to see how Assane’s last collaborator, investigative journalist Fabienne Bériot (Anne Benoît), found herself. Note also that with the exception of Franco-Algerian lieutenant Belkacem (Shirine Boutella), there are no women of color in Lupin’s world. Not even Assane’s mother, absent, presumed dead and rarely mentioned. Our hero has dedicated himself and his formidable skills to erasing his father’s name, while his mother has no name.
But it may be a mystery for the third part already ordered. With the comings and goings of J’Accuse the Dog – the top named pet on TV. Indeed, trying to keep track of your often-absent pet will leave you feeling like a mark in one of Assane’s favorite little drawbacks, the old cup-and-ball game.