TBT: Arsene Lupin (2004)


I’ve been dying to watch Arsène Lupin (2004) ever since I caught a glimpse of the costumes on Kristin Scott Thomas and Eva Green. Set primarily around the turn of the 20th century, designer Pierre-Jean Larroque‘s (The Lady and the Duke, Molière) costumes looked absolutely exquisite. Sadly it took forever to find a subtitled version, but I recent came across it on Amazon, and my toes twinkled in delight … until the plot put me to sleep.

Arsène Lupin is a character created by French writer Maurice Leblanc, and has been featured in a number of short stories and novels. He’s a “gentleman thief” who works for good despite that whole thief thing. There have been a number of film adaptations, including one in 1932 starring John Barrymore.

The 2004 film mixes mystery with martial arts and some steampunk-y elements. The basic premise is that Lupin’s father, a kickboxer (??), was killed when he was young, and he was separated from his cousin, Clarisse (Eva Green from Penny Dreadful). As an adult, he meets and becomes involved with Josephine (Kristin Scott Thomas), who may be immortal, and to protect her, Lupin goes up against a secret society in search of hidden treasure. Along the way, he is reintroduced to Clarisse, who he also has a thing for. Oh, and the famous “Affair of the Necklace” necklace apparently still exists (it doesn’t) and was passed down by Marie-Antoinette to Clarisse’s family.

While this all sounds just fine, it’s just that — fine. Lupin is played by Romain Duris (Molière), who would be SOOO my type if he didn’t have some weird upper teeth/lip thing going on.

2004 Arsene Lupin

So much potential!

Romain Duris

But see what I mean?

Thomas and Green play their parts well, even if Green’s Clarisse is pretty much the stereotypical good girl love interest.

2004 Arsene Lupin


2004 Arsene Lupin


But the plot just drags, and everything is comic-book-y and over-the-top, and I just didn’t really care about any of the characters. Okay, except Josephine, who was badass.

Luckily, the costumes WERE fabulous eye candy, so it has that going for it!

2004 Arsene Lupin

Clarisse is primarily in shirtwaists and suits.

2004 Adventures of Arsene Lupin

But at the climax, she gets to wear The Necklace…

2004 Arsene Lupin

Along with this AMAZE-BALLS evening gown straight out of Doucet or Callot Soeurs.

2004 Arsene Lupin

So pretty! And hey, one of the few eras where cold shoulders ARE historically accurate!!

Adventures of Arsene Lupin (2004)

Josephine is the baddie, so she gets all the drama.

2004 Arsene Lupin

This lace dress fits like a glove, and THAT. HAT.

2004 Arsene Lupin

The lace dress on display.

2004 Arsene Lupin

There’s a coda in the 1910s, the Josephine looks extra chic in her leopard fur suit.

2004 Arsene Lupin

Arsène spends most of his time in tuxes, but occasionally finds other ways to be dapper.

2004 Arsene Lupin

Like this linen? suit.

2004 Arsene Lupin

But the best is when, for a robbery, he goes FULL FOP in a way that I know Trystan approves.

2004 Arsene Lupin

I only wish I could find an image of his collapsible purple silk taffeta top hat!


Did you find Arsène Lupin entertaining? Am I just a heathen? Discuss!


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

8 Responses

  1. the StoryEnthusiast

    I haven’t seen this version, but I do love the Barrymore one. Although there aren’t any exciting costumes in that one, it’s still fun to watch John face off against his brother Lionel in a battle of wits.

  2. Trystan L. Bass

    Yep, I’d seen that purple suit & squeed! Too bad the movie is just blah. I think I’ve seen pix of the Barrymore one & also been intrigued, so maybe I’ll hunt it down for a comparison.

  3. picasso Manu

    You’re not a heathen. I grew up reading the books… And my sister, contrary to you, had a thing for Duris. So we went to see it at the theater. It’s the king of film that makes you cheer for the baddy just so you could see some action and put everyone out of their misery. And since it was a bad girl and she was FABULOUSLY dressed, it was not difficult.
    Poor Arsène didn’t have much luck with his adaptations, they always fall a little short one way or the other. But then, he’s also very French, and let’s face it, we’re not good at making action movies.

  4. SarahV

    OMG that leopard suit. I would wear that NOW. Hell, I’d wear that to my wedding!

  5. 992234177

    The scene on the boat where the jewels were stolen were real jewels lent by Cartier, plot is great until you find out about Scott-Thomas.

  6. misat0

    The white lace dress looks like the horse races dress from My Fair Lady, without the ribbons.