Boy Swallows Universe

After a drug lord destroys his family, a brilliant youngster and his silent sibling seek suburban love, forgiveness, and justice in 1980s Brisbane, Australia. Boy Swallows Universe, a Netflix Australian coming-of-age limited series, is based on Trent Dalton’s critically praised semi-autobiographical novel. The series, created by John Collee, follows working-class child Eli Bell, as he journeys into Brisbane’s underbelly to save his mother.       
The character ensemble is as diverse as they come with Eli, played by newcomer Felix Cameron, acting like a typical teen in an unusual, often surreal, dystopian-like setting, full of energy and enthusiasm, with bouts of odysseys, visions, epiphanies, and vivid, colourful recollections of a happier life lived. Lyle, Eli’s stepfather, sells heroin; Frankie, played by Phoebe Tonkin, is recovering from addiction; the clairvoyant Gus, played by Lee Tiger Halley, has been mute for years; and Simon Baker, who gives an exceptional portrayal as Gus and Eli’s angry, recluse, alcoholic, absent father. 
Eli and Gus may survive, but you never know what they will do next to make ends meet and help their mother throughout the story. As the episodes progress, you may feel as if you are drowning in the apocalypse and despair. Despite its intriguing local language, the series’ inconsistent tempo may be sluggish to some viewers, but even hardened sceptics will appreciate the emotional and uplifting scenes that appear along the way.  
Boy Swallows Universe lacks the underlying good and evil conflict that one would anticipate from such an entry in the genre, and it is the creators’ sharp, incisive humour that brightens an otherwise gloomy story and distinguishes it from its peers. 
Despite its sombre tone, Boy Swallows Universe reveals that even the darkest drama show deserves a little brightening up while dealing with grief, bullying, domestic violence, bereavement, and the devastating repercussions of addiction.    

-Dirk Lombard Fourie

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