What Richard Did (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/01/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Emotionally compelling, understated and thought-provoking Irish drama with a strong script and a terrific central performance from rising star Jack Reynor.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Garage, Adam & Paul), What Richard Did is set in present day Ireland and stars Jack Reynor (who's just been cast in Transformers 4) as Richard Karlsen, a charming, handsome, intelligent, rugby-playing 18 year old who looks out for all his friends and is looked up to by everyone he knows. While spending the summer before university hanging out with his rugby buddies, Richard is drawn to Lara (Roisin Murphy), the girlfriend of his teammate Conor (Sam Keeley) and it isn't long before the pair hook up and Lara leaves Conor for Richard.

However, Lara's continued friendship with her ex-boyfriend begins to eat away at Richard and he finds himself consumed with jealousy. And after a drunken argument with Conor turns ugly, Richard's life takes a shocking turn that puts his golden future in jeopardy.

The Good
Jack Reynor is terrific as Richard, creating a character that is likeable and genuine, despite his seemingly privileged position (it's strongly implied that his family is richer than those of his friends); as such, it's both disturbing and compelling to watch him slowly unravel. When he starts feeling jealous, we sense that this is probably the first time things have not gone Richard's way and that, while genuinely kind-hearted and not spoiled, he is nonetheless used to getting what he wants. Roisin Murphy is similarly appealing as Lara (there's a palpable connection between her and Reynor) and there's strong support from Lars Mikkelsen (looking very different to his role on The Killing) as Richard's depressive Danish father.

The script, adapted from the novel Bad Day in Blackrock (itself loosely based on a true story) is excellent on a number of different levels; for one thing, it perfectly captures the heartache of adolescent love, while also presenting a convincing group of modern day teenagers. On top of that, the film's approach to its central themes of guilt and responsibility is extremely complex, in that it's never entirely spelled out for the audience – it's left to us to decide just how much of Richard's subsequent behaviour is him feeling genuinely guilty for his actions or just him not wanting to get caught.

The Great
Abrahamson's direction is assured throughout, allowing events to unfold at their own speed and achieving both a quiet intensity and gripping tension in the process. He also orchestrates some extremely powerful moments, such as Richard's heart-rending delayed reaction to his situation, or a terrific scene between Richard and his father, where Richard confesses but doesn't quite receive the response he's hoping for.

Worth seeing?
What Richard Did is an impressively directed, superbly written and brilliantly acted drama that exerts a powerful emotional grip. Highly recommended.

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What Richard Did (15)
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Content updated: 16/12/2017 11:04

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