Life After Life
Based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kat Atkinson, Life After Life tells the story of Ursula Todd (Thomasin McKenzie), a young woman born in 1910 with an extraordinary gift: every time she dies, she receives another chance at life, with time resetting to the moment of her birth. Ursula changes as a person with each rebirth – she doesn’t retain memories from her previous lives, but is guided by a sense of déjà vu – and the drama follows her as she navigates a life filled with love and loss against the backdrop of two world wars.
It’s a very creative premise, and the show makes great use of it. The subtle changes throughout Ursula’s many lives add intriguing layers of complexity that keep the audience invested throughout. The nature of the story means that it’s primarily composed of several repeating vignettes and motifs, but it’s structured and paced carefully to ensure something new happens with each iteration, and the series expertly avoids feeling repetitive despite consisting almost entirely of repetitions.
Life After Life also uses the storytelling device of Ursula’s resurrections to make poignant statements about the nature of life, as well as touching on specific social issues like misogyny in detail, with Ursula’s invulnerability being effectively deployed to explore the myriad of ways in which women are vulnerable in society to great effect.
At times, the pacing can feel a little slow, and with each episode being around 50 minutes, the narrative can sometimes feel as if it’s dragging its feet, particularly in the earlier parts. However, these slower moments are few and far between, and for the most part, the show maintains an effective balance between larger events and smaller pockets of character development.
Overall, Life After Life is a fascinating and gripping little slice of television, an excellent character study that’s carefully and intelligently crafted. It expects a lot of its audience with its slower pace and tight character focus but rewards diligent and patient viewers with a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Life After Life is released on 19th April 2022.
Watch the trailer for Life After Life here: