Photo: ‘The 7 Lives of Lea’
I love a good time-travel film or series; the concept of warping something that doesn’t seem mendable or controllable at all leaves me in frighting curiosity. It causes audiences to be on the edges of their seats as they watch with incredible awe and wonder as to how the characters will get out of their out-of-this-world predicament–or whether or not this experience will take them on an even more experimental journey. Even more so, this curious admiration is certainly enhanced when an even more outlandish element is added to the thrilling mixture of the series or film to add even more uniqueness to the experience of watching it.
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Take a mysterious time-travel story, sprinkle in some classic teenage angst (an element that is one of my favorites), and top it off with the odd concept of body-switching and you got the recent French Netflix Original series ‘The 7 Lives of Lea’. Oh, and don’t forget to incorporate the dead bodies that tie in with the cold-case mysteries that are dying to be solved.
‘The 7 Lives of Lea’ – A Life No Longer Lived
From the title of the series alone, you can safely assume that the premise of the series revolves around the several lives lived by the main character–Lea, to be exact. And, with those seven lives, merely only comes about seven episodes within the first season; which is a perfect play on both the title and concept of the series as a whole.
‘The 7 Lives of Lea’ follows Lea (played by Raika Hazanavicius), a teenager who seems to be entirely nihilistic and unmotivated with her time and her life. The reminiscent teenage angst shines through her character perfectly; unable to be even slightly opaque in her feelings about her life, being utterly translucent. One day, Lea comes across a dead body along the river; and soon comes to find that the body is that of Ismael–a boy who was once close to her parents, and whose death has been long-ruled as a suicide, along with his mysterious death remaining as a cold case for quite some time. It is after this encounter that after Lea goes to sleep that night, she would then wake up 30 years earlier, in 1991, inside of Ismael’s alive body. And all of this happens in only the first episode.
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As the series plays throughout its seven-episode run, Lea wakes up in a new body each time; but, all of these individuals seem to relate to both Lea and Ismael, giving a purpose behind each person rather than feeling as though it is at random. This gives an odd sense of connectivity and the power of influence as Lea has the upper hand in rearranging her fate, alongside the lives of those she’s grown to love over the years; even if that love for them has dissipated from her personality. I find that this overall concept of the series is quite interesting, and it feels as though it’s an odd play on the choice of changing your existence that was seen before in the 1985 film ‘Back to the Future’.
However, making that comparison to ‘Back to the Future’ doesn’t entirely mean that the series isn’t truly original. While the concept and use of time-travel and body-swapping aren’t ultimately unique, the execution and storytelling style (both script-wise and cinematography-wise) is what makes ‘The 7 Lives of Lea’ stand out.
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The Developed Life Of Lea (And Friends)
The love and care put towards all of the other characters, and the growth that Lea encapsulates as she transforms throughout these various bodies is incredible. Using the storytelling style to get an advantage of bringing the audience to care more than just Lea (and how her personality oddly shines through an entirely different human being) is magical; it keeps the mind utterly captivated and wanting to binge-watch this entire series. The comedy feels a tad bit as though it’s put in there to simply alleviate some rather incredibly tension-filled points, but this doesn’t tear away from the incredible writing skills put out by the variety of writers; there being six writers, the creator Charlotte Sanson having written two episodes and the rest being devoted to the rest of the writing team (each writer getting their episode).
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I also have to mention that I am beyond interested in the chosen look of ‘The 7 Lives of Lea’. The continuous use of warm colors, and the typical drama series camerawork, feel oddly appropriate in capturing the atmosphere of the story of the series. Everything is in its place, life going on as it once did, yet the one outlier being a soul that’s hidden in plain sight–trapped in the familiar and the already determined. The warm tones also bring about security and a temptation to stay and see how the story plays out since the simple visuals tend to capture and lure the viewer in even more.
Ultimately, the series comes together quite lovely in a variety of ways. Lea is forced to look at the world through a different lens by being in a whole new body and threading together this concept in the sense of physical development is something so entirely one-of-a-kind.
The Experience Of 7 Lives
With another original foreign series in the books, Netflix has yet again achieved another impactful and memorable show to binge all in one night. It oddly feels so amazing and touching that the series would develop a story that involves that relatable sense of being a teenager and conforming to nihilistic ideologies, and merge itself into one of the most beloved sci-fi tropes of all time. Of course, let us not forget the intriguing aspect of a cold-case mystery finally on the way to being solved once and for all; bringing forth a renowned justice for the dead.
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‘The 7 Lives of Lea’ takes you on utterly so many twists and turns that you’ll get off of its rollercoaster of emotions with the feeling as though you’ve gotten well-worth-it whiplash. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and are itching for a new time-travel series to get yourself into, then I would give ‘The 7 Lives of Lea’ more of a shot–give it the whole series.
Cast: Raika Hazanavicius, Khalil Ben Gharbia, Marguerite Thiam
Editor: Julien Perrin | Director(s): Julien Despaux, Emilie Noblet | Writer(s): Charlotte Sanson, Deborah Hassoun, Dorothee Lachaud | Producers: Eric Laroche, Emeric Le Maitre, Raphael Rocher
By Leah Donato
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