Live with it – What Richard Did review

What Richard Did

By Simon Miraudo
December 10, 2013

Newcomer Jack Reynor gives a startling, star-making performance in the slow-burn Irish drama What Richard Did. It’s no surprise he’s since been snapped up for a big gig like Transformers 4 (though it does suggest Michael Bay has seen this little flick, and liked it, despite it not featuring buxom women leaning over cars). We can expect Reynor – with his nonthreatening, Chris Pine-esque good looks and extremely-threatening acting prowess – to become a fairly big name in the coming years. Consider this indie his Queens Boulevard, if you will.

He plays the titular Richard, a well-liked 18-year-old rugby captain with supportive parents and a tight-knit group of friends. Little effort is required in stealing Lara (Róisín Murphy) away from his teammate, Conor (Sam Keeley), but Richard’s just so affable he still offers his condolences to the cuckold. His perfect life begins to unravel one evening at a party, which is just like the countless others he’s attended before, except for the way in which it concludes. Drunk, and feeling a little jealous, Richard makes a split-second decision with massive ramifications. As the weeks pass and he wrestles with coming clean about what exactly he “did,” his moral center moves slightly to the right, and he discovers just what transgressions he can and can’t live with. Director Lenny Abrahamson is unafraid to utilise an intimate camera, often trained on Richard’s face as he undergoes turmoil from within.

What Richard Did

Malcolm Campbell adapts Kevin Power’s novel Bad Day in Blackrock with intense economy. It was unsurprising to learn that this is a fairly loose adaptation, considering the mostly internal nature of Richard’s ethical journey. (That it was inspired by horrific true events, however, should send a stone to the pit of your stomach.) Reynor only boils over once during the entire film, and it’s a cathartic release, well earned. The early sequences of Dublin youths wasting time with one another are perfectly realised, while the movie’s centrepiece – a revealing chat between Richard and his dad (Lars Mikkelsen, Mads’ brother) – could be a contender for the best scene of the year. How I wish I could illuminate those moments that lingered with me. Doing so would only spoil What Richard Did‘s rewards. Most of the tension in the early part of the feature is merely the result of knowing the title, and waiting for that something to happen. It’s a mystery worth discovering the resolution to on your own.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews.

What Richard Did plays the Perth International Arts Festival from December 10 to 15, 2013.

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