Lupine, the review of the new Netflix series with Omar Sy

Before going into the Lupine's review, a necessary though sad clarification is necessary: ​​the protagonist of the series is not Lupine the Third, the notorious gentleman thief born from the wild imagination of Monkey Punch over half a century ago. There are no samurai with katanas, no gunslingers with folded cigarettes, not even busty female heroines.

The Assane Diop played by Omar Sy (Almost Amici) is not even the Arsène Lupine (the original) born by Maurice Leblanc, although it may be considered a sort of follower.

A necessary premise since, since the announcement of the series, a certain slice of the public has begun to give in a rage, criticizing the choice of a black protagonist and accusing the production of “blackwashing”. An accusation that is neither in heaven nor on earth and that does nothing but confuse the waters of a debate, that on the presence of ethnic minorities in audiovisual products, which deserves a completely different tenor.

Having said that, we can delve into the analysis of lights and shadows of a product that has, despite everything, already met with great success with the public on the American streaming platform.

In the shadow of arsene

Assane Diop is therefore a man who grew up reading Leblanc's novels and developing a visceral passion for literary Lupine. He basically lives on thefts and formidable deceptions, put into practice by exploiting his innate “acting” skills and his ability to get out of any potentially annoying situation. He is of Senegalese origins, which makes perfect sense in contemporary and multiethnic Paris, and lost his father, a chauffeur with a wealthy white bourgeois family, the Pellegrini, when he was just fourteen.

For Assane it is time to investigate the mysterious death of his father and, to do this, the first step is the theft of a very precious necklace in the possession of the Pellegrini themselves, which will be auctioned in the splendid setting of the Louvre museum.

The first of the five episodes that make up this miniseries (in reality, ideally, it is a sort of first part of the season) is undoubtedly the best of the package, both in terms of rhythm and narration, and in terms of production value. The locations are many and visually rich, the action scenes more credible and abundant than in the rest of the series. Omar Sy is instantly charismatic and fascinating, as well as quite credible even in the masks of the various "characters" played by Assane.

The first of the five episodes that make up this miniseries (ideally it is a sort of first part of the season) is undoubtedly the best of the package

Unfortunately, from the outset, what is one of the main defects of the series is evident, namely the inconsistency of the secondary characters, including the antagonists. If in the first episode a lack of in-depth analysis on supporting actors is negligible, in the long run it is clear that they were heavily neglected in the writing phase. A casting that is not too spot on and an almost humorous acting register, which does not combine well with the more exquisitely dramatic sequences, do not help.

A real shame because in the long run this also impacts on the weave itself which ends up fraying and chronically losing its bite, also thanks to the other great flaw of the product, namely the substantial infallibility of the protagonist.

Gary Stu

The character of Assane, in fact, falls exactly within the definition of Gary Stu, as a protagonist overly idealized and devoid of weaknesses. If, at first, this is perfectly in line with Leblanc's literary character and it is easy to be captivated by his charisma, in the long run it becomes cloying, almost unpleasant. In addition, a character essentially devoid of weaknesses ends up atrophying and flattening the narrative mechanism.

The suspense, which in the first episode is palpable and genuine, dies with the progress of the episodes. In fact, it is impossible to create them starting from the assumption that any potential problem on the hero's path will be solved quickly and without aftermath.

Omar Sy is instantly charismatic and charming

Certainly there is an underlying narrative theme, that relating to the death of Assane's father, which acts as a glue between the episodes and keeps them horizontally united, but drowns in the venial sins of a writing that tends not to sufficiently justify some passages. Thus we witness situations bordering on credibility (and sometimes beyond) that make you turn up your nose on more than one occasion, risking irreparably compromising the suspension of disbelief.

Often, for example, it is not possible to understand how it is possible that no one recognizes the protagonist simply wearing a mustache or glasses. One often gets the impression that the protagonist is, yes, extremely clever and shrewd, but that those who revolve around him are particularly dumb. Certainly it would not be correct against a product like Lupine to have a claim of absolute verisimilitude, God forbid, but some moments would have benefited enormously from a slightly more careful writing.

A beautiful postcard

As for the purely aesthetic component, in this review by Lupine, I can only praise the excellent work done. If you have an HDR TV, you will be charmed by the photographic beauty of many scenes. The series arrives on Netflix in the glory of 4K resolution and with full support for the Dolby Vision standard.

The choice of a warm and enveloping light gives the viewer a postcard Paris, almost timeless, crystallized in its elegance, decidedly different from the decadent Paris seen in the recent The Eddy (here our review). To assist the excellent photography there is an equally excellent work of scenography, thanks to a valid alternation between location rich in grandeur and more intimate places.

in the long run the weave ends up fraying and chronically losing its bite

The direction, even without particular flashes, is solid. Some situations might have benefited from a more “subtle” and less didactic staging, but in general the result is appreciable. To the help of the latter comes an excellent editing job that manages, especially in the first episodes, to skilfully alternate present situations and scenes from Assane's past with an excellent rhythm, useful to deepen the character and justify his actions in the present. . A narrative expedient certainly not original but functional.

In short, this first cycle of episodes has allowed us to taste a product that is aesthetically refined and strong with the excellent interpretation of Omar Sy, but which, already in the few episodes available, seems to gradually lose its verve and charm. It is not too late to adjust the game and the final cliffhanger could turn the series towards less obvious and predictable (or perhaps even more predictable, who knows) shores.

Therefore, this review by Lupine does not end with a rejection, but neither with a large promotion. At present it is a sufficient product, capable of entertaining in an undemanding way and with some points of sure charm. The success he is obtaining with the general public proves it abundantly and is, after all, well-deserved. Unfortunately, however, it is a series that is drunk like a glass of water but which does not leave its mark.

For the second part of the season, in any case, we won't have to wait long: Netflix has already confirmed the release for next summer.

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