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 Arsene Lupin
 Critic's Rating
   [A+]
 Date Posted
   3rd May, 2005
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Cast: Romain Duris, Kristin Scott Thomas, Pascal Greggory
Director: Jean-Paul Salomé

You must see this film! "Arsène Lupin" is spectacular entertainment made for adults who enjoy intelligent, risqué cinema. Here is a film that embodies sexiness and fun. Infact it provides us with something usually amiss from the take-it-at-face-value summer blockbusters from Hollywood – imagination. This lavish European feature film (a budget of over 23 million Euros) drips with fantasy, romance, suspense, action and just about every other enamoured genre elements we, as film-goers, have come to love over the ages. Sounds ambitious, doesn't it? Well, it is. But the film pulls it off with endearing magnificence.    

"Arsène Lupin" is an adaptation of the 1924 novel "The Countess of Cagliostro" which is about an enigmatic figure of extraordinary beauty (played here with exceptional skill by Kristin Scott Thomas).The focus of the film is about Arsène Lupin, the gentleman burglar, son of a master thief and murderer. Arsène and other characters inhabit a world of magic, lore and brutality all of which come without warning. The film starts off with the Countess facing allegations of witchcraft (which may or may not be true). She is being hunted by a secret group of affluent aristocrats hell-bent on presumably protecting a century-old treasure. The Countess is saved by a young and flamboyant Arsène (Romain Duris) who falls for her irresistible allure and then into a web of intrigue, deceit and unthinkable family secrets. There is the political fallout of the French monarchy that serves as a drop to the film's classic archetypes and lends a sharp taste of authenticity. In the end, filtered through the impressive production values and eye-popping special effects, "Arsène Lupin" is about the rakish Arsène's coming-of-age. From vagabond to master thief, he must discover the truth behind the fractured memory of his father's murder. How must Arsène outwit Beaumagnan (Pascal Greggory), the aristocrats' dangerous contriver, and undermine his attempts to subvert the Countess' controversial plans? Should he trust the Countess and her professed love for him? Or will he defy social stigma and marry his secret lover, Clarisse (played by the luminous Eva Green), who also happens to be his cousin?

Grinded in the salt of modern sensibilities, "Arsène Lupin" is pure, unadulterated movie escapism. It is popular entertainment built on the foundation of great literature the likes of which Alexander Dumas will be proud to call his own. Not to pigeon-hole or stereotype but I cannot help but think if James Bond had an alter-ego in the 19th century, could it have been Arsène Lupin? - Adnan Khan

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