Lupin Season 1 [8/10]

A caper series based around the conceit of imitating the famous French escapologist/burglar Arsène Lupin, “Lupin” is imperfect but shines brightly where it most counts. Assane Diop, a Senagelese in Paris, is out to unravel and avenge the prison death of his father when he was a boy, and to do that, he needs to invade the world of a sleazy, powerful businessman (played wonderfully by Hervé Pierre). The first episode (of five) involves a jewel heist in the Louvre, very much in the Mission Impossible style (but, it has to be said, less hi-tech), and each episode involves deception, misdirection and trickery a la the legendary Lupin. The series is plotted tightly and directed in workmanlike fashion, but the series stands or falls with Omar Sy’s larger-than-life portrayal of both Assane, the wronged boy grown up, and Assan the incarnation of Lupin. And here I found myself wavering. Omar Sy’s huge frame and handsome smile often seemed to render him as shallow, yet at crucial times, usually in the midst of mayhem and action, his acting revved up a notch. The caper machinery of Lupin could have come across as cliched, instead it is fresh and enjoyable, and towards the end, what lifts this season above the ruck is the nuanced performance of Ludovine Sagnier as Claire, Assane’s on-again-off-again partner. The interplay between Assane and Claire elevates the inevitable cliffhanger finale into something rather special. Lupin ends up more affecting than its parts.

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