Swedish drama BEYOND tells the story of a Leena (Noomi Rapace), a seemingly happy, if a little obsessive-compulsive, married mother of two young girls who is forced to face the past she has spent her adulthood running from after receiving a death-bed call from her mother. Skipping between present day and flashback scenes with Leena as a child, BEYOND realistically addresses issues of alcoholism and abuse in a heart-wrenching manner, but truthfully there is nothing in this film that hasn’t been seen before, and much more effectively (New Zealand’s own ONCE WERE WARRIORS sprung to mind).
One of the larger drawcards to BEYOND is seeing Rapace tackle a more conventional role, as many viewers will be familiar with her only from her breakout performance as Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish versions of Stieg Larsson’s MILLENIUM trilogy. Rapace proves to be a capable actress in a role largely without dialogue, and interestingly the actress playing the younger Leena (Tehilla Blad) also played the younger Lisbeth in the MILLENIUM films’ flashback scenes, and similarly does solid work here. The tragedy of BEYOND is in watching the young Leena’s existence, keeping her household together when her alcoholic parents fail and trying to shield her younger brother from the worst of her family’s problems. While upsetting, unfortunately the drama plays out in a somewhat unsurprising fashion, with some fairly obvious foreshadowing and symbolism allowing audiences to connect the dots between the past and present well before the narrative unfolds.
BEYOND is by no means a bad film, just an unpleasantly bleak one, and whether or not you want to see this type of hard-hitting social realism is a decision you need to make. This type of story sadly exists all around us in the real world, so if you’re looking for escapism in your film choice, perhaps BEYOND shouldn’t be on your viewing list. That said, it is well acted and shot, and for depression junkies will serve as a distracting, if familiar, European drama.
Reviewed by: Mark Roulston