The legendary rival of Sherlock Holmes inspires a new master criminal.
Assane Diop (Omar Sy) is a janitor at the Louvre who is in debt to a number of gangsters. To pay off his debts, he offers to help the gangsters steal a priceless necklace. It turns out, however, that Assane is much, much more than he seems. He is, in reality, a criminal mastermind who has based his life on the famous fictional thief Arsene Lupin, and is working to uncover the truth behind who framed his father for a crime that he did not commit.
I will admit that I was very excited about this show, but made sure to avoid spoilers. I am a huge fan of Arsene Lupin and am disappointed that the series has made relatively little impact in the US compared to other countries. That made me initially pretty disappointed when the show turned out not to be an update of the character, but instead a completely new character. However, when the first heist gets underway, it becomes apparent that this might not be Lupin in name, but it is definitely the character in spirit. Most of the episodes contain references to various Arsene Lupin stories, but they’re intentionally done by Assane and, amusingly, one of the police investigators also realizes that the criminal is a Lupin fan.
Even if you don’t know much about the books by Maurice Leblanc, this is one of the best heist shows I’ve seen in awhile. It helps that, unlike almost all modern thief shows, this one is not about a team of criminals. This is all about one man who is just that good at what he does. While Assane is a bit more sympathetic than Lupin, he still has all of the panache and talent that you want. In some ways, it’s actually more impressive that this man has spent his life building up the skills required to be almost the equal of a fictional character.
The show does a great job of balancing most of the heists and crimes with the ongoing story about Assane seeking justice for his father. Most of the crimes we see him commit are related to the progression of his investigation, but it’s often done in a way that comes with a great reveal to the audience. We also get a picture into the rest of Assane’s life outside of crime, but much of it isn’t revealed until the final episode of this season. Omar Sy’s performance is amazing, as he has to play the character as not only the “real” Assane, but also all of Assane’s aliases and alternate personas.
Overall, just a really great show. I can say that it’s better in French with subtitles, but it’s pretty good dubbed, too. It just doesn’t show off Sy’s range as well.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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