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Lupin (2021)–The Gentleman Thief

Based upon a popular 1905 collection of short stories about a gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin, written by the French mystery writer, Maurice Leblanc, the three-season blockbuster Netflix Lupin series (2021)  is a reimagining of  the legendary thief in present-day Paris. Lupin is the equivalent of a French Sherlock Holmes with some important differences.

In flashbacks  the young Assane Diop (Omar Sy of “The Intouchables”, see March 27, 2013 review)  endures a travesty of justice that imprisons his beloved Senegalese immigrant father.   Growing up in a foster home, Assane obsessively reads the capers of Arsène Lupin and mysteriously receives a scholarship to an elite French private school.  The now-adult Assane Diop travels through a labyrinth of cover-ups to unravel and identify the culprits who incarcerated his father: corrupt politicians, police, and corporate  magnates.

Each episode has surprises, seemingly impossible escapes, and action-packed capers.   Always  one step ahead of the con artists and institutions with a vested interest in ensuring the truth about Assane’s father is not revealed, Assane becomes  a celebrated thief himself.   The debonaire chameleon Assane  assumes many disguises and identities in leading his multiple lives. While successfully masterminding heist after heist, he refuses extreme violence towards others, while his enemies have no such compunctions. (Mostly, he defends himself with martial arts maneuvers.)   In addition, Assane’s personal life with his partner and their teenage son adds depth, emotional tension, and motivation for his commitment to honor his father and be the father he wants  for his own son.Racism, class divisions, France’s colonial past, and self-preservation are at the forefront of Lupin.

Overall, Lupin is an entertaining mystery thriller  that successfully revitalizes the beloved classic literary character for a modern audience. With its gripping storyline, compelling performances, and a blend of suspense, charm, and originality Lupin leaves viewers eagerly anticipating the next chapter in Assane Diop’s thrilling journey.  After the final episode of season three, Lupin has been set up for an upcoming season four.

Availability:  Netflix

Note: Season One is the best, with a compelling backstory and family drama that engages the viewer and makes Assane Diop more likable.

Note 2:  Maurice Leblanc, the author of the Arséne Lupin series, borrowed and was inspired by detective Auguste Dupin, created by Edgar Allan Poe in “The Purloined Letter”.

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