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What Richard Did Review

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Loosely based on Kevin Power's novel A Bad Day In Blackrock, What Richard Did is the latest film from Lenny Abrahamson, director of Garage and Adam And Paul. It tells the story of Richard Karlsen (Jack Reynor), a popular and intelligent 18 year old from a well to do Dublin family. He embarks on a romance with Lara (Róisín Murphy), and all is going well until jealousy rears it's ugly head culminating in a tragic accident that sends Richard's life spiraling out of control. That's as far as I'll go, because to say anything else would take away from an extremely powerful and accomplished piece of Irish cinema.


The film clocks in at 87 minutes, and not a second of that time is wasted. It is a masterclass in the art of the slow burn. It takes it's time introducing us to Richard, his friends, and the world they inhabit, but not once does it feel slow or monotonous. It gives you time to really get to know the characters, and the romance between Richard and Lara is handled wonderfully, lending the first third of the movie a very light tone. It's because of this that when the movie does turn dark, it is all the more shocking (but still expected). This is when the film mutates into a whole different animal, as Richard selfishly struggles to stop his life from imploding. Not once does it feel contrived. In fact, a lot of scenes choose something more real over the well worn dramatic cliches. At times it is uncomfortable to watch, but you won't be able to drag your eyes away from the screen.

Since he is the title character, much of the film is on Reynor's shoulders. That's not to belittle the rest of the cast, especially Lars Mikkelsen as Richard's father, who delivers a heart breaking performance. But Reynor steals the show. Richard is instantly likeable, making the events that transpire more tragic. You see his confident and cocky persona wash away, and his self destruction is difficult to watch, especially when he finally breaks down. That scene had me squirming in my seat. Not once does it try to justify his actions. What he does is wrong, and he only further condemns himself as the movie progresses.

Beautifully shot by Abrahmson, this film is an examination of how one deals with tragedy that they ultimately brought upon themselves. Powerful and thought provoking, it is a masterpiece.





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