Good Gothic movie, but lacks the Lupin literary touch
A fan of Lupin ( I read almost all the novels), I entered the movie theater with great expectations and came out with mixed feelings, but with a margin of admiration. That’s certainly the best of the cinematic technical renditions of Maurice Leblanc’s immortal personnage (the TV renditions are all below standard).But after John Barrymore and Melvyn Douglas, Jules Berry and Robert Lamoureux brought a conception of the main character which is absent from this superproduction. The two guys from Toronto (nice city, I lived there six months) who sent positive comments are mostly correct. The other from Italy is right when he predicts “failure abroad” (this movie is already losing momentum in Paris only a week after its premiere and severe reviews). Now let’s be lucid: most of the French movie critics are hopeful future cinematographers, and they react furiously when a newcomer comes up with a movie that reflects a good use of a heavy investment, which was the case with many films by Claude Lelouch, and applies also for ARSENE LUPIN (2004). J.P. Salomé did a fine job with the millions he was able to raise, and most of the actors look real. Too bad Lupin is not one of them; I didn’t recognize my Arsene from Romain Duris’ impersonation, although he tried hard (and his stunts were Indy Jones, Tarzan and Flash Gordon reunited).To put it simply, the Arsene Lupin standing up on the screen for me had not the class I remember from Maurice Leblanc’s sensational novels. I just went across a lengthy interview I made with Claude Leblanc (son of Maurice)in 1992, when he was 90 years old (he died two years later). I’m sorry to say, Romain Duris is no match to the list of the former Lupins (except Charles Korvin, in the last of the three movies made by MGM), including Georges Descrières, classy, but unable to save the TV versions. But how can you concentrate “813” in 52 minutes? And the ending, with Franz-Ferdinand of Austria murdered in front of the Gare de l’Est, is purely ridiculous, almost an insult to the millions of youngsters who were murdered after the Sarajevo catastrophe. J.P. Salomé probably imagined that moviegoers would smile at that: none did, at least in my sparsely populated theater. If he imagined it as a prelude to a new sequel, he missed the point. Too bad, because I generally enjoyed his movie and appreciated the efforts deployed to make it a success. I sincerely wish it good luck.