This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 26th June 2011
The girl with the dragon tattoo is back in Beyond, thankfully this time without ink and issuing the occasional smile, though her story is often as dark as the trilogy that made her a star.
Noomi Rapace plays against her real-life actor husband Ola Rapace, as Leena, wife and mum of two lovely girls, whose happy existence is upturned by an unexpected and unwelcome summons from her dying mother. Leena’s childhood is shown in a series of well-acted and substantial flashbacks, as we learn why she is reluctant to revisit her past.
Young Leena is played with astonishing maturity by Tehilla Blad, the same little girl who played junior Lisbeth Salander in the Millenium trilogy. She is self-possessed and magnetic.
Director Pernilla August is probably best known to audiences here as Luke Skywalker’s mother. For her feature directing debut she has crafted an excellent film from the novel by Finnish author Susanna Alakoski. The source material undoubtedly helps. The story is admirably balanced in its complexity – Leena’s mother being passionately in love with her abusive husband; her father’s capacity for exceptional warmth and support, juxtaposed with his spiralling out of control.
Beyond is by necessity a dark picture, but the telling is sufficiently restrained (though no less gut-wrenching for its self-control), and at least no one is burned alive at the end of it.