Pernilla August’s directorial debut Beyond (Svinalängorna) is a hard hitting drama about young mother Leena of two who gets a call that her mother is dying. She doesn’t want anything to do with her mother, but her husband decides to take the family on an overnight road trip to see Leena’s mom. It is clear from the get go that the husband is not aware of the troubled history that plagues Leena, and she is not willing to tell him even when they are on the road, it is that painful.
Through flashbacks we get to see what has been going on in this household. It is your standard drunken-parent-ruins-all fare. At first things are sort of well, but having to live in a strange country (they are from Finland), with a strange language, no job and general misery takes the family to a very dark place. It is the darkness where August decides to tell her story, which was based on a successful novel. And it is dark, dark, dark. There is hardly any relieve from the belligerent nature of grown ups, even the swimming coach is an enormous jerk.
Piece by piece everything becomes clear and there is some interestingly complex catharsis for Leena, played with gusto by Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace. Her younger counterpart is heartbreakingly played by Tehilla Blad. The rest of the cast is also very convincing in their parts. It seems August knew what she was doing when making Beyond, but maybe she could insert some tension relieve to make the experience a little bit more enjoyable. But then again, should we be enjoying a story about child abuse and bad parenting? Guess not.