Beyond ★★★★½

"Beyond" is certainly not an easy movie to watch, but it comes highly recommended. The visceral power of the film ensures that it will not evaporate from the viewer’s mind as soon as the end credits have rolled. One of the scenes that linger the longest arrives in the last act and shows one of the main characters having an emotional breakdown; that scene is remarkably powerful in its simplicity.

Pernilla August makes an impressive debut as a feature-film director. She tells the story—August and Lolita Ray wrote the screenplay as a loose adaptation of Susanna Alakoski’s novel of the same name—so effectively and so grippingly that the harrowing scenes of domestic abuse and its long-term consequences generate a feeling of physical discomfort in the viewer. Erik Molberg Hansen’s coarsely grainy cinematography cannot be said to be beautiful, but it goes hand in hand with the thematically dark tone of the film by giving the proceedings an unpolished look.

Noomi Rapace is absolutely terrific in this movie; the role of Leena may not be as immediately memorable as that of Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played with Fire", and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest", but the former has more emotional depth and carries more dramatic weight than the latter. Tehilla Blad, who plays young Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium Trilogy films, has a screen presence to be reckoned with and delivers an outstanding performance as young Leena; she inhabits the role so well that there hardly seems to be any acting involved. While he never gets the opportunity to really shine, Ola Rapace is solid in the role of Johan, Leena’s caring husband. Rounding out the first-rate principal cast are Outi Mäenpää and Ville Virtanen, who are completely believable as Leena’s parents.