Boy Swallows Universe" Series Review
Boy Swallows Universe” Series Review ( Photo Credit – Netflix )

Boy Swallows Universe Review: Star Rating:

Cast: Travis Fimmel, Phoebe Tonkin, Sophie Wilde, Bryan Brown, Simon Baker, Deborah Mailman, Christopher James Baker, Adam Briggs, Anthony LaPaglia, Felix Cameron, Lee Tiger Halley, Zac Burgess

Written by: John Collee

Director: Bharat Nalluri, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Kim Mordaunt

Country of origin: Australia

Based on: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (novel)

Streaming On: Netflix

Language: English, Vietnamese

Number of seasons: 01

Number of episodes: 07

Boy Swallows Universe” Series Review ( Photo Credit – Netflix / YouTube )

Boy Swallows Universe Review: What’s It About

“Boy Swallows Universe” unfolds in the gritty working-class suburb of Darra in 1985 Brisbane, where 13-year-old Eli Bell, portrayed by Felix Cameron and later Zac Burgess, grapples with the challenges of adolescence. Amidst encounters with school bullies and navigating a tumultuous family life, Eli’s journey becomes increasingly complex. His mother, Frankie, battles addiction, stepdad, Lyle, is entangled in illicit activities, and absent father, Robert, struggles with alcohol-related issues. Eli’s alliances with his older brother Gus and former inmate Slim Halliday provide support amidst the chaos. As Eli communicates with a mysterious voice through a concealed telephone, the plot thickens, leading to revelations, ghostly encounters, and a captivating exploration of ’80s suburban Australia.

Boy Swallows Universe Review: Script Analysis:

“Boy Swallows Universe” presents a masterfully crafted script that defies traditional storytelling, opting for scattered vignettes that intricately weave the disparate elements of Eli Bell’s tumultuous life. This unique narrative structure mirrors the chaos of Eli’s experiences, offering viewers a dynamic and engaging journey through school bullies, family turmoil, and mysterious phone conversations. The script’s ability to gradually reveal critical aspects of Eli’s character in a non-linear fashion adds depth to the storytelling, keeping the audience captivated.

A notable strength lies in the script’s embrace of almost magical realism and symbolism. Elements that blur the line between reality and fantasy, such as the visions of Eli and Gus in a car soaring through space, contribute to the series’ richness and complexity. The clever use of symbolism beckons viewers to delve into a symbolic dance with the characters, propelling the narrative beyond the confines of a typical coming-of-age drama. This infusion of symbolic elements adds a compelling complexity to the storytelling, weaving a tapestry of depth that transforms the viewing experience into a more profound and nuanced spectacle.

The script masterfully tangles between the gritty truths of adulthood and Eli’s youthful lens, orchestrating a narrative that sways gracefully between despair and jubilation. The stark interplay of Eli’s wholesome storytelling and intense visuals, such as the forceful trunk encounter with Lyle, becomes the heartbeat of the series. This intricate dance between the harsh realities of grown-up life and the purity of youth spins a riveting tension, propelling the narrative into captivating motion. The script’s artful depiction of Eli’s coming-of-age amidst a gritty and intricate world injects depth and authenticity into the storytelling.

Moreover, the script leverages visual spectacle and symbolic imagery to enhance the narrative’s depth. Gus’s unique communication method, tracing words in the air, becomes a visual spectacle reminiscent of skywriting, adding intrigue and symbolism to his character. This creative use of visual elements elevates the storytelling, creating a rich, multi-dimensional narrative experience beyond traditional dialogue.

The narrative tapestry woven by the scriptwriters skillfully connects the characters in Eli’s world, exploring the complexities of familial relationships, mentorship, and the challenges of adolescence. Despite the series possessing a structurally chaotic nature, there is a palpable sense of control, guiding the narrative with purpose. The interconnected characters, from mentor Slim to father Robert and stepdad Lyle, contribute to the series’ authenticity and emotional resonance.

Boy Swallows Universe” Series Review ( Photo Credit – Netflix / YouTube )

Boy Swallows Universe Review: Star Performance

In the heart of “Boy Swallows Universe” stands the commanding performance of Felix Cameron as the fearless protagonist, Eli Bell. Cameron’s portrayal of Eli is a tour de force, navigating the complexities of adolescence with raw emotion and sharp wit. As the narrative unfolds, Cameron seamlessly maneuvers through the challenging terrain of adult spaces, delivering emotional pleas, quick quips, and heartfelt observations with remarkable finesse.

One of the notable strengths of Cameron’s performance lies in his ability to convey Eli’s inner reflections. Through narrations within letters penned to his pen pal, Alex Bermuda, played by the deadpan brilliant Adam Briggs, Cameron brings Eli’s inner world to life, resonating with authenticity and vulnerability. The dynamic between Eli and Alex adds depth to the narrative, showcasing Cameron’s skill in portraying nuanced relationships.

Matching patterned shirts and accompanying Lyle on dubious deals, Cameron captures the essence of Eli’s unfiltered curiosity and his desire to understand the complexities of the adult world. This showcases Cameron’s versatility and adds a touch of humor to the series.

The chemistry between Cameron and Lee Tiger Halley, who plays Eli’s protective older brother, Gus, is a standout aspect of the star performance. Their effortless camaraderie, carefully crafted by the young actors, provides a solid foundation for the series, particularly during poignant moments. Cameron’s ability to convey Eli’s resilience and vulnerability in the presence of his family reflects a depth of understanding of the character’s emotional nuances.

Cameron’s portrayal reflects Eli’s youthful exuberance and a poignant contrast to the gritty and complex adult world surrounding him. Whether maneuvering through the challenges of school bullies, family turmoil, or engaging in mysterious phone conversations, Cameron’s performance anchors the series, making Eli a relatable and compelling character.

Lee Tiger Halley, portraying Eli’s older brother Gus, brings a subtle yet brilliant touch to the series. Opting not to speak initially, Halley’s portrayal amplifies Gus’s brilliant imagination and keen observant nature. The distinctive bond between Eli and Gus poses a challenge, but the young actors, Cameron and Halley, adeptly create an apparently effortless camaraderie, steadfastly supporting each other through poignant moments. Halley’s performance adds depth to the narrative, creating a character whose presence is felt even in silence, contributing to the series’ overall emotional resonance.

Travis Fimmel effortlessly steps into the role of Eli’s stepdad, Lyle, infusing the character with an erratic energy that shifts between upbeat optimism and hair-wringing panic. Fimmel’s portrayal seamlessly blends with the narrative, showcasing Lyle’s attempts at illicit substances. The actor brings a dynamic quality to the character, capturing the complexities of Lyle’s life entangled with crime and uncertainty. Fimmel’s performance adds a layer of intensity to the series, contributing to the overall richness of the character dynamics within the Boy Swallows Universe.

Boy Swallows Universe Review: Direction & Music

Bharat Nalluri, Jocelyn Moorhouse, and Kim Mordaunt, the visionary directors behind “Boy Swallows Universe,” showcase a dazzling prowess in magnifying the sweeping narrative. Adapted from Trent Dalton’s novel, the series effortlessly fuses gritty realism with an almost magical touch, crafting a unique atmosphere for the tumultuous life of 13-year-old Eli Bell in 1985 Brisbane. The script’s chaotic yet controlled essence finds a harmonious dance partner in these directors, expertly steering the challenges of transforming scattered vignettes into a seamless and captivating visual spectacle.

The directors expertly capture the unique aesthetic, sounds, and cultural nuances exclusive to ’80s suburban Queensland and Australia. Directors of photography Shelley Farthing-Dawe and Mark Wareham play a crucial role in immersing the characters in a nostalgic tableau, with red brick buildings, jacaranda trees, worn-out thongs, Atari gaming, and other elements that define the era. The use of vibrant and lively color palettes adds depth to the narrative, distinguishing between the adult world’s harsh realities and Eli’s youthful exuberance. The series employs visual storytelling with finesse, offering viewers a palpable sense of the time and place.

Furthermore, the directors successfully inject a touch of almost magical realism into the gritty settings, summoning a transcendent energy that subtly prowls at the fringes of the show, much like a wolf in the shadows. This delicate balance of realism and magic enhances the storytelling, creating a rich, immersive world that elevates the narrative beyond a straightforward coming-of-age drama.

The soundtrack, a curated time capsule of ’80s gems, captures the era’s spirit and choreographs the series’ tone. Whether it’s the electric beats fueling Eli’s escapades or the soul-stirring melodies underscoring emotional scenes, the music transforms into a character, shaping the very essence of the show. It’s not just a soundtrack; it’s a time-traveling symphony, adding an authentic touch and a nostalgic serenade to the cultural landscape of 1985.

Boy Swallows Universe Review: Last Words

“Boy Swallows Universe” takes audiences on a captivating literary journey, weaving crime, coming-of-age drama, and outstanding performances into the fabric of the narrative. Despite occasional tonal shifts, this distinctive Australian period piece presents moments of sheer excellence, earning a solid 4/5 star rating and establishing itself as a must-watch.

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