Lupin stole my heart. I don’t even care if this show doesn’t deserve 4.5 stars (it does; it’s fantastic) I will still award them happily. Lupin, in short, is a more complex, French James Bond. His character, with all his oddities, strengths and weaknesses, makes 007 look like a primped and plucked doll, although I suppose it is unfair to compare the two, given that Lupin is both 007 and M put together (although there is still a wiry, frizzy haired best friend if that’s important to you).
The story opens on a jewellery heist. A washed-up janitor, down on his luck, has decided to steal a necklace from the Louvre to cover his debts. But as I found with all of Lupin’s hijinks, nothing is really as it seems. The show takes us speeding and sneaking around the streets of Paris, and tugs at our heartstrings along the way. While there was nothing particularly interesting to be said about the cinematography, it is brilliant writing and fantastic acting that brings this show to life. Omar Sy, who I am ashamed to say I didn’t know before this, is a well accomplished actor. He plays Lupin as suave and too clever for his own good, but doesn’t hesitate to show us that Lupin, unlike Bond, has serious weaknesses. He struggles with fatherhood and his own parental past, and despite his practically photographic memory, still manages to forget to spend time with his son. The people who surround him (half of whom want to kill him, and the rest want to kiss him) are also fully realised characters in their own right, perhaps unlike the Bond girls we are used to seeing. When these well written characters are thrown into layers of conspiracy and corruption… well, what’s not to love.
While generally I don’t believe that knowing the plot to a story ruins the experience (it’s the journey, not the destination) I hope it has been noted that I am trying my best not to spoil anything. Unlike with other films and television I’ve reviewed, it is important to me that you experience Lupin as it happens. The twists, turns, and witty punchlines are worth seeing first-hand. It also introduced me to French television, which, for some reason in my head, I felt must be similar to black-and-white silent films. While of course this has the Netflix spin, the fact that I didn’t know Omar Sy before this baffles me. This show, once again, confirms what Bong Joon-Ho said when he received Best Picture, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
The main weakness of this show is that there is not more of it. That, and the often-outrageous plot lines. There are some moments where I have to admit, I thought, ‘Even Lupin couldn’t pull that off.’ But I suppose, if we are willing to believe that James Bond throws himself onto trains and out of cars, that we should forgive Lupin for this as well.