The 7 Lives of Lea (Les 7 vies de Léa), a French series, is a time travel story with body swapping thrown in the create a mystery around a 30 year old death.
In The 7 Lives of Lea (Les 7 vies de Léa) high school junior Lea (Raïka Hazanavicius) stumbles upon a skeleton mostly buried in the river one night when she wanders away from a party. She calls in the police.
When she goes to sleep that night, it’s 2021. She wakes up in the bottom bunk of a strange bedroom. And – she’s in a boy’s body.
She’s Ismaël (Khalil Ben Gharbia). Inside her mind, she’s Lea, but to everyone else, she’s Ismaël. It’s 1991, exactly 30 years to the day before her current day in 2021.
Several important things happen in this first episode, when she’s living as Ismaël. Lea realizes that it’s his body she found in the river. She falls in love with him. And she realizes that the people Ismaël knew in high school are still around. That includes her own parents.
When Ismaël goes to sleep that night, Lea wakes up as herself again. Each night, Lea falls asleep and lives through a day as another person who knew Ismaël. When she wakes up as Lea in the morning, she spends the day trying to solve the murder.
Karine (Marguerite Thiam as a teen and Mélanie Doutey as an adult) is Lea’s mother. She was a musician, in a three piece band with Ismaël.
Lea’s father, Stéphane (Alexander Ferrario as a teen and Samuel Benchetrit as an adult), was the drummer in the band.
After spending a day as Ismaël, Lea spend 6 more days as the various people who might know about the murder. She swapped bodies with her mother, her father, a record store owner named Patricia (Anne Azoulay), the school mean girl Sandra (Alexandra Cismondi as an adult and Rebecca Williams as a teen), the rich kid/bully Pye (Alexander Ferrario as a teen and Hubert Delattre as an adult).
Each time she returned to her real life, Lea had new leads and new ideas to follow up with the older versions of the people whose lives she’d lived for a day.
Her activities in 1991 changed events in 2021. For example, Lea’s best friend Romane (Maïra Schmitt) was in love with Dora (Kelly Bellacci). Something Lea did on the night she was Pye with Dora’s mother resulted in Dora not being born. When she realized that, she fixed that mistake the next night when she was someone else to get Dora back in 2021.
Lea would like to change the lives of the people she loves so they would be happier. The change Lea really wants to make was to save Ismaël. As the day he died came closer and closer, she still hadn’t figured out who killed him or why. It didn’t help that the adult versions of the teens around Ismaël lied all the time. Including Lea’s parents.
Lea had sexual experiences in the past while in various bodies. There were various combinations of boys and girls together in these experiences. They were all new experiences for her, including the time she was in a pregnant girl’s body and feeling nauseous all day.
I thought the first six episodes went well and were interesting. But the final episode got out of hand. It tried too hard with too many twists and surprises and an ending I didn’t like much. Despite the muddled final episode, overall the series was pretty good.
Since I have a closet full of VHS tapes, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, and other antique media, I was amused by Lea and Romane’s lengthy struggles to figure out how to see the old movies Lea’s father took back in 1991. They finally got a VCR and an adapter to make the camera cassettes play in the VHS sized device. They they had to watch YouTube videos on how to hook it up!
The 7 Lives of Lea (Les 7 vies de Léa) was created by Charlotte Sanson from a novel by Nataël Trapp. Three of the 7 episodes were directed by Émilie Noblet. The series is streaming on Netflix, with all episodes available now. There’s a trailer on YouTube, all in French.