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TV TATTLE

Lupin is still entertaining in Part 2 and Omar Sy is still a gravitational force, but the Killing Eve-style strains are starting to show

  • "There are car chases across the French countryside, a spooky near-haunted house, romantic interludes along the Champs-Élysées and the Seine, plus a finale that’s pure Hitchcockian pastiche. Accompanied by Mathieu Lamboley’s score, Lupin has, like its hero and its literary inspiration, a magician’s swagger, daring you to see beyond the sleight of hand," says Daniel Fienberg. "And beyond the sleight of hand, there’s often additional flash and little more. Assane is always four or five steps ahead of everybody to a degree that’s exhausting and, when (George) Kay and the writers skip major logical steps in his process, it’s extra frustrating. The show is still very entertaining, but even in leaving you wanting more — at least fans go into these five episodes knowing that’s it until Part 3 — you can see how it might not be sustainable; it’s a bit like how Killing Eve had one superb season and then the strain of repeating the same tricks became too much. Maybe Killing Eve suffered because the writers understood that both Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer were needed for the alchemy, while Lupin could last because only Sy is required. He has simmering chemistry with (Ludivine) Sagnier and (Clotilde) Hesme, but he could probably have simmering chemistry with a baguette. Watching these five episodes, he gets to be a romantic lead, an action star and a suave model for trench coats, track suits and and some ridiculous disguises. Sy is so good and so versatile that I’m ready for Lupin to really explore what the character’s race means in contemporary France."

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    • Lupin Part 2 tries to sideline so much of the Omar Sy playfulness that made Part 1 great: "The satisfied smile of Assane Diop as he walks away from people he’s just foiled is an incandescent marvel," says Steve Greene. "To say that Lupin succeeds because of the man behind that smile, Omar Sy, is a vast understatement. Take him out of this show — whether in the first five episodes that became an early-2021, word-of-mouth international hit or in the second five that make up what Netflix calls 'Part 2' — and it’s hard to imagine any other part of it equipped to handle what the confidence in that title performance brings. It’s odd, then, that Lupin Part 2 tries its hardest to sideline so much of that Sy playfulness that made up the bulk of what got people hooked back in January. Instead, the show doubles down on its conspiracy side, threads through even more of its time-hopping setups, and makes its way to a finale that seems as stuck in the middle as the episodes that come right before it. Judging by the simple premise that guides them, these episodes definitely don’t have to be as sweeping and frenetic as they often are. Assane is still focused on his overarching goal: seeing that those responsible for framing his father decades ago are brought to the kind of justice only he can dispense. That goal is both complicated and renewed by the events right before Part 2 begins. After a reconciliatory bus ride promises some happier news on the horizon, Assane’s son Raoul (Etan Simon) is kidnapped. Hubert Pelligrini (Hervé Pierre), the man responsible for bringing pain into Assane’s childhood, seems bent on doing it again to him as an adult. Lupin wants to absorb everything that comes along with a crime drama loaded with real, serious consequences, where parents scream in sorrow at their children being killed right in front of them. It also wants to be an effortless charm vehicle, with Sy dancing to the Four Tops while whipping up a tasty meal. It greatly succeeds at the latter and seems to always strain under the weight of the former."
    • Lupin wouldn't work without Omar Sy's captivating performance: "Only an actor who seems equally at home attending gala events in five-figure tuxes, fighting off bad guys with his bare hands and disappearing into an endless series of disguises could sell a character as charming and ingenious as Assane," says Judy Berman. "Though his talents certainly aren’t limited to this kind of role, 43-year-old Sy has emerged as one of the most versatile male action stars of his cohort—one who radiates more warmth than Tom Hardy, more intellect than Ryan Reynolds, more physical strength than Tom Hiddleston or Anthony Mackie, more sophistication than John Cena or Jason Momoa or, really, any of the Chrises. Following the success of Lupin, and with Jurassic World: Dominion due out in 2022, Americans will surely be seeing plenty of Sy on the big screen in the coming years. That’s a wonderful thing. But as TV increasingly overtakes film as our most vital form of audiovisual distraction, I hope we’ll also start to see more shows like Lupin."
    • Part 2's only flaw is being a continuation of the previous series, rather than an adventurous leap in a different direction: "Assane is still subject to the same racism and classism (never be an unfamiliar Black man walking into a Normandy village bar), but his growing notoriety makes it trickier to turn these prejudices to his advantage," says Ellen E Jones. "It was easy to be a master of disguise when the cops couldn’t seem to tell one Black man from another, enabling him to move unnoticed among the city’s all-but-invisible underclass of cleaners and cooks. Now there’s an accurate photofit doing the rounds, plus the kidnap of Assane’s teenage son Raoul (Etan Simon) has raised the stakes."
    • Lupin Part 2 couldn't care less about speed or pace: "It's more content to slow things down, to double and quadruple back upon itself, to examine exactly why what's happening is happening," says Gregory Lawrence. "It's a batch of episodes designed to get us to an explosive meeting of forces, and that eventual collision is quite spectacular. But the journey along the way can feel, at times, frustratingly laborious, over-intellectualized in its timeline-hopping, and just plain 'different' from the first batch of episodes. Then again, this feels like a purposeful choice from creators George Kay and François Uzan, a choice interrupted by the 'Part 1' and 'Part 2' of it all, a choice that's meant to be reckoned with as part of the initial creative statement. I couldn't help but feel a little like the mark on the opposite end of one of Assane Diop's (Sy) capers — confused but admittedly delighted, understanding exactly 'how' he tricked me but still questioning the 'why.'"
    • Part 2 improves upon Part 1: "Lupin: Part 2 largely surpasses Part 1, and it even overcomes a few genuinely deflating rug-pulls to create a season with swift pacing, alluring characters, and a clockwork action climax right out of a spy thriller," says Siddhant Adlakha. "Part 3 has already been confirmed, but this second block of episodes is a fun and satisfying conclusion to Diop’s story — at least, for the time being."
    • How Lupin writers work to continue threading the needle: “With my script editor, Joe Williams, I often say, ‘We need to break into a building. How are we going to do it? What buildings can we use from the books? What ways to break in can we use? What tricks? OK we need to do this — but what if we took that idea from that story, and we used it in a different way to break in somewhere?’” says creator and showrunner George Kay of the writing process. “If we were an Arsène Lupin devotee, what little Easter eggs can we drop into the show? At all times we’re representing the fanbase both on screen and in the writing.”
    • Mamadou Haidara, who plays the younger version of Omar Sy's Assane Diop, was surprised by the Lupin's popularity: “I didn’t see any of it coming,” says the 16-year-old actor. “I saw Twitter and Instagram going up and up — I loved it. I thought the series would do like any other series. But going nuts like that? I never imagined it.” Clotilde Hesme, who portrays Juliette Pellegrini, adds: "I was very moved to see my son and my father watch something together. I loved seeing this kind of well-done family entertainment.”
    • Omar Sy is glad to see French TV and moves embrace diversity without being preachy: “Thank God people of this generation now have the means to express ourselves in fashion, literature, and art,” Sy says. “We speak of ourselves, and we’re stylish and sexy.”
    • Despite the success of Lupin, is happy to continue living in the United States -- even as he tries to keep French culture alive in his house: “We are very happy in Los Angeles,” he says. “I see my children blossoming. That is all one wishes as a parent.”

    TOPICS: Lupin, Netflix, George Kay, Omar Sy




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