Friday, September 13, 2013


Cine Europa 16
Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex

"Beyond" is a hauntingly powerful movie as it deals with alcoholism and domestic abuse.  It is based on a novel by Susanna Alakoski and is the directorial debut of Swedish actress Pernilla August. 

A single phone call from the hospice where her mother is confined rattles Leena (Noomi Rapace) to the core. Her mother whom she has not seen in ages has only a few hours to live and wants to see her. Suddenly Leena is confronted with the demons from her past, a childhood that was wracked with neglectful parents who were mostly drunk and whose fights would turn violent.

Her past comes to the screen through flawless flashbacks where we witness how a young Leena holds the household together as her parents spiral out of control. How she practically raised her young brother trying her best to shield him from experiencing first hand the murky effects that alcoholism had imposed on their parents.  How she turns into an expert swimmer in school as her means of escape from the troubles at home.

Leena's present life though seems like a complete contrast as she is happily married to a supportive husband and they dote on their two daughters. Yet confronted with the resurgence of the memories of her past, she turns into a bitter person. Quite understandably so.  All the years of neglect and abuse she witnessed as a child come rushing to the surface and suddenly she doesn't know how to process the experience.

Case in point, when her mother talks to her on her deathbed, she tells Leena "there were some good times, though. All those parties."  Leena retorts "those were not nice parties they were disgusting drunken messes".  Two people who experience the same experience yet remember them quite differently.  Sad but a hauntingly true depiction of life.

The film itself is difficult to process despite the simplicity in the manner it was presented on screen.  It is disturbing to watch a young child go through so much misery at the hands of her own parents.  But what is more troubling is how parents can be so neglectful of their own children.  
But I am mature enough to know that not all families are blessed with parents who provide a loving home for their children.  And sometimes it takes a film like "Beyond" to show us we need to be more appreciative of our own family.

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