I don’t remember why exactly I ended up talking with my mum about “Back to the future” with my mum a few years before I got to see it on TV. I only remember her telling me about the picture Marty McFly had in his pocket, and how it kept changing as he found himself in 1955 and kept messing with the past. And I am quite sure that it was one of the episodes that caused my fascination with stories involving time travel and the effects it might have if it goes backwards.
All the stuff about foreshadowing, or prophecies that may or may not be self-fulfilling are usually enough to lure me into consuming a certain piece of media. The “Back to the Future” trilogy, of course, but also movies such as “Donnie Darko” and “The Butterfly Effect”.
There are a very few things out there able to really make me lose my mind out there as much as time loops do. This is the reason why I impulse-bought a book on Amazon as soon as a friend of mine mentioned its plot, and the reason why I chose my latest fling on Netflix.
But let’s start from the beginning, here is how things went. A couple of weeks ago I had already finished the first part of Stranger Things season 4 (I’ll write about it if and when I’ll get over the second part), and I was mindlessly browsing Netflix as I looked for something to entertain me until part two came out.
I came across The Seven Lives of Lea, a French tv show inspired by the novel “The Seven Lives of Leo Belami” from Natael Trapp. At first I thought it was a transposition/adaptation of my dear obsession “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton, but it wasn’t. A few of the themes were the same, but the result was completely different.
Instead of re-living the same day in seven different bodies, the adventures of Lea in each of the seven bodies she ends up inhabiting spans one week. But let’s start from the beginning.
Lea is a seventeen years old French girl who seems to be on the verge of giving up on her life. She doesn’t have a good relationship with her parents, and she feels that her parents don’t love each other anymore. She’s not very good at school nor has a clear idea about what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Just when she’s about to swallow an enormous amount of pills during a party by the river, she finds the remains of Ismael, a boy who went missing thirty years earlier.
The following day, Lea wakes up in Ismael’s body. She’s confused, and she finds out that she’s traveled back to exactly one week before Ismael’s death. At first she’s scared, but she can’t help being fascinated with Ismael and the reasons why he died. Also because, as she finds out right away, Ismael was one of her parents’ best friend, as opposed to what they told her as soon as his body was found.
Day after day, or better, night after night, Lea gets caught up in Ismael’s and her parents’ story, and she’s determined to save Ismael from his death. Thing is, she also finds out that messing up with the events of the past will result in dramatic consequence in her present days.
What will she do? Will the price to pay be too steep to pay to save Ismael’s life? How much will she have to give up, and will she do it even though investigating and re-living the events of the past gave her something to live for?
I’m not going to answer these questions here, because I don’t want to spoil the show if you haven’t seen it yet, but I’m telling you that even though it’s probably more targeted at a younger audience I loved it, and how it built up until the final episode, when Lea really has to make a difficult decision. The harder decision you can think of.
To sum it up, yes, this story takes a lot of inspiration from a lot of existing media, but it’s not a bad thing. Storytelling is not just about finding something new to tell, but also about combining existing elements in a new and meaningful way. The Seven Lives of Lea does this, and the result is something surprising and original.