In the moving Swedish drama Beyond, Noomi Rapace does away with the tattoos and body piercings she sported in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to play a much more ordinary woman albeit one still haunted by old demons. The actress stars as Leena, a happily married wife and mother who, as the film opens, answers a phone call from her mother and immediately hangs up the phone, as if she had received a mild electrical shock. A few minutes later, the phone rings again. This time its a hospital employee, informing Neena her mother Aili (Outi Mäenpää) is gravely ill, probably has hours left to live and is asking to see her daughter.The news comes as a surprise to Leenas husband Johan (Ola Rapace, Noomis real-life hubby) and her two young daughters, all of whom believed Aili was long dead. Reluctantly, Leena agrees to a family trip to say goodbye to her mother, but the trek instantly summons up memories presented in the film as prolonged flashbacks that might have been better left dormant. Beyond marks the directorial debut of Pernilla August, who acted in films for Ingmar Bergman and George Lucas and was once married to Oscar-winning director Bille August ( Pelle the Conqueror). August obviously learned a thing or three from working with such esteemed talents, since her film bears the assured hand and confident pacing of the work of a veteran. Leenas mounting dread at confronting her mother is gradually explained by scenes set in the 1970s, in which Leena (played as a teen by Tehilla Blad) and her parents and little brother, Finnish immigrants to Sweden, moved into a new home filled with optimism and high hopes, then were inexorably dragged down by her fathers alcoholism and her mothers participation as a facilitator. Alternating between the past and present, Beyond juxtaposes scenes of the young Leena trying to hide the traces of her parents irresponsible behavior from social service agents to moments in which the adult woman steels herself to reconcile with a mother she had long buried as dead in her heart. The films momentum gathers speed as the abuse Leena suffered reaches unthinkable lows, explaining the psychological scars she must now live with scars she has learned to hide from a world unaware of her pain. Powerful, punishing and ultimately redemptive, Beyond is reminiscent of prime Bergman in its keen observations of human behavior and the way the past cant help but affect our present, no matter how much we try otherwise.
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Ola Rapace, Outi Mäenpää, Tehilla Blad, Ville Virtanen.
Director: Pernilla August.
Screenwriters: Lolita Ray, Pernilla August. Based on the novel by Susanna Alakoski.
Producers: Helena Danielsson, Ralf Karlsson.
Running time: 94 minutes. In Swedish and Finnish with English subtitles. Vulgar language, brief violence, drug use, adult themes. Plays at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday and 9:30 p.m. Friday at Regal South Beach.