What Richard Did follows Richard Karlsen, golden-boy athlete and undisputed alpha-male of his privileged set of South Dublin teenagers, through the summer between the end of school and the ...
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Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in an Irish prison, in which I.R.A. prisoner Bobby Sands led a protest against the treatment of I.R.A. prisoners as criminals rather than ... See full summary »
What Richard Did follows Richard Karlsen, golden-boy athlete and undisputed alpha-male of his privileged set of South Dublin teenagers, through the summer between the end of school and the beginning of university. The world is bright and everything seems possible, until in one summer night Richard does something that destroys it all and shatters the lives of the people closest to him. What Richard Did is a quietly devastating study of a boy confronting the gap between who he thought he was and who he proves to be.Written by
Over the past ten years or so, director Lenny Abrahamson has made something of a name for himself in the Irish film industry. He first burst onto the scene with his feature-length debut, the Beckett-esque 'Adam and Paul', which opened to a positive reception. He followed it up three years with 2007's excellent and downbeat 'Garage', a film which showcased Pat Shortt's capability for a career outside of comedy. After making these two quite different films (both of which showed directorial talent) it would no doubt prove interesting to see where Abrahamson would end up next, and with 'What Richard Did' he has delivered his finest piece of work yet.
One of the most brilliant things about it is how natural it all feels, particularly in its depiction of 18 year old Richard and his peers. Often when it comes to portraying young people on screen, things can feel too forced (aspects of Diablo Cody's work come to mind) or on the other hand become completely misrepresented. This film sees Abrahamson perfect the very difficult technique of accurately depicting teenagers, especially with the way they speak, act, their mannerisms, etc, feeling nothing but natural as if the camera had been placed in the middle of an actual conversation.
At the heart of it all is a terrific central performance by newcomer Jack Reynor as the titular Richard, a popular and achieving school rugby player, living in the upper-middle class area of Dublin. He has to deal with a wide range of emotions and conveys them with nuance and expertise, as we witness how his character fluidly develops as the plot progresses and unfolds. The scene where he confesses to his father about what exactly he 'did', played by Lars Mikkelsen (brother of the stellar Mads) is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest pieces of acting of the past twelve months.
Proving to be not a world away from Scandinavian cinema (some likened it to Vinterburg and Bergman) or the films of Michael Haneke, with its consistent aurora of unease and underplayed intensity, 'What Richard Did' is an intelligent, complex and understated drama that confirms Abrahamson's directorial skill and heralds the arrival of brilliant young actor.
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