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Lupin Season 2 Review 2020 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Creator: George Kay
Stars: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Hervé Pierre
Lupin, starring Omar Sy, first dropped on our screens in January 2021 when this part of the world had begun to open up, as it harboured dreams of returning to the ‘old normal’. (Well, we clearly jumped the gun on that one). Some of us had even drawn out a list of the possible, highly coveted ‘first show’ of films we might have wanted to begin this second innings of our lives with, until the next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic punched us in the face, sending us scurrying back into our homes.
However, with Lupin Part One, we got a glimpse of what the grand spectacle of the movies might feel like on our compressed screens, as we cozied up to the thought of the experience becoming a staple for a while to come. The show bedazzled us with breathless chase sequences and smoothly executed subterfuges as its protagonist Assane Diop — a devotee of the gentleman burglar Arsène Lupin, a 20th century conman created by French writer Maurice Leblanc — played to perfection by the enigmatic Sy, glides through the streets of honey-hued Paris. To put it simply — it is a thriller set inside a postcard.
It comes as no surprise then that the show and the character were made by The Gaumont Film Company to custom-fit Sy, a bona fide French star, whose imposing, magnetic physicality is central to the politics of Assane and Lupin. In what has proven to be a Netflix non-English blockbuster, with part one clocking in over 70 million views since its release, the secret to success of Lupin lies in how it rediscovered the literary classic — done to death in France — to lend it a modern, more fitting screenplay iteration than, say, a Sherlock. Without a shred of doubt, Omar slips in to the shoes of Lupin just as seamlessly as Lupin becomes a part of him, until one cannot tell the two apart.
The premise of Lupin is rooted in racism, as it takes us back in time to show us why Assane had to land on the wrong side of law to do the right things. His father Babakar Diop (Fargass Assandé), a Senegalese immigrant in Paris, was framed by his wealthy white employer Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre) in an insurance fraud for a missing necklace that once belonged to the damned queen Marie Antoinette. On being imprisoned without much evidence, Babakar hangs himself in his cell, but not before leaving clues of his innocence for his son, in what seemed like a letter admitting to his crimes — Lupin-style. Assane then goes on to seek justice for his deceased father at the cost of forsaking his family — a wife and a son — and operating as a veritable shape-shifter.
Part one ends with a cliffhanger, as Assane’s son Raoul (Etan Simon) goes missing at a Lupin-themed literary carnival in the beach town of Étretat in north-west France on his birthday, which is exactly where part two, beginning with episode 6, picks up. This time round, the stakes are undoubtedly higher as Raoul is taken hostage by one of Pellegrini’s baddest henchmen in a spectacularly decadent, and positively menacing mansion in the French countryside. Assane later is also charged with a murder (of the same henchman) that he has not committed, and that effectively initiates the closing in of the walls on him more than ever before. Sy, however, rises to the occasion much like his character, and owns every beat like the smoothest criminal there ever was or will be.
The genius of Lupin lies in its masterful use of Sy’s striking 6-foot-2-inches frame to cast him in a role that requires him to be invisible, more than anything else, in order to arouse the inherent racism in a white world that refuses to distinguish one Black person from another.
Assane subverts the cultural and racial invisibilisation accompanying his Blackness by being five steps ahead of his neocolonisers. He proves on multiple occasions that he does not need to be armed to disarm his enemies, because his chivalry and charm are lethal enough to take down armies of men who have gamed the systems to further oppress the already marginalised, such as him and his father.
Paris’s very own Robin Hood, Assane steals from the rich to pay the poor, and leaves bouquets of roses for the women he robs (as the song in the climax by French crooner Jacques Dutronc also suggests). He is always clued in, is barely ever caught off guard, and moves as fast as he thinks on his feet, even while being chased by the federal police for a crime (of murder) that he has not committed, and never will — as fellow Lupin fanboy, police-detective Youseff Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab) assures us — because he is a gentleman, and he never initiates a fight.
However, unlike part one, part two ends on a more definitive note (as a part three has already been confirmed to be in the works) as Assane has successfully executed his meticulous plan of trapping Pellegrini in a web of his own avarice and deceit. (He even gets a new accomplice this time — no points for guessing that he belongs to the Lupin fan-club as well, that too someone Assane and Benjamin spot at the library in the Arsène Lupin section. Talk about stars being aligned.)
But the ‘gentleman thief’ is still far from being acquitted of the misdeeds he committed to reverse and set right historical wrongs, which morally dwarf in comparison to the crimes of Pellegrini. In fact, Assane’s ambitions receive their ultimate validation when his son discovers the true nature of his father’s ‘vocation’ after he is rescued from the clutches of Pellegrini and his confederate — the corrupt police officer Gabriel Dumont (Vincent Garanger). Raoul asks Assane to ‘continue’ with his mission without batting an eyelid.
What Lupin accomplishes rather remarkably, beyond its exceptional visuals, is lend a credible sociopolitical premise to the story that rises above its source material to leave a powerful commentary on cultures of apartheid, racial injustice, and structures of oppression — traces of which are ostensibly visible in the Normandy bar sequence of part two.
And of course, you pay that much more attention to it all when it is dished out by the “formidably charming” (borrowing from The New Yorker article) Omar Sy. Sigh.
Lupin Parts One and Two are streaming on Netflix.