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What Richard Did

What Richard Did

Released 5 October 2012
Director Lenny Abrahamson

Jack Reynor, Sam Keeley, Roisin Murphy, Lorraine Pilkington, Lars Mikkelsen
Writer(s) Malcolm Campbell
Producer(s) Ed Guiney
Origin Ireland
Running Time 87 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 15A

Confident drama.

When a South Dublin teen makes a terrible mistake, what will the consequences be?

Easily one of the most recognisable Irish directors of recent years, Lenny Abrahamson this time sets his sights on the story of a Dublin teenager from an affluent background. Loosely based around Kevin Power's Bad Day in Blackrock and by proxy the assorted news and radio items concerning the Brian Murphy case, What Richard Did sees Abrahamson step away from his previous collaborative partnership with writer Mark O'Halloran and this time combine his directorial talents with scribe Malcolm Campbell (Shameless, Skins, The Bill, Byker Grove).

Thematically not too distant from past works Adam & Paul, Prosperity, Garage, in that they all focus somewhat on a tragic event, What Richard Did doesn't seem exactly easy party to the presumed trivalent nutshell of Irish social drama set in the North Inner City, Countryside and Southside, respectively. But while Adam & Paul, Garage and Prosperity have an almost inevitably punitive conclusion written into their very geography What Richard Did with a comparable taste of disquiet as to its leafy suburban surrounds may leave many equally perturbed.

Bar the uncomfortable overhanging sentiment of what it is that Richard did, this isn't a movie played for shock value. Eschewing any harsh social investigation and instead focusing on character moments and individual moral conundrums, What Richard Did neither attempts an Irish version of Larry Clark's Kids or panders toward the kind of TV drama fodder that leaves middle class ladies and gents countrywide cooing with disapproval into their Barry's tea about youths with promise throwing their lives away. And while the teenagers involved might stray from path proprietous from time to time, they, never explicitly vilified, somehow all seem good at heart.

Preferably, What Richard Did is a masterfully written piece that prides itself on pinning down teen verbiage in a way that doesn't degenerate into a parodic South Dublin drawl or stray into territories often popularly occupied by Irish Times column lampoons. And, although, sometimes played for laughs with aware, amusing moments of teenage conversation in privileged environs impeccably rounding out writer Malcolm Campbell’s braiding together of the South Dublin life led by popular rugby player Richard, his friends and teammates, the story remains verisimilitudinous in every essence with raw tangible truths emerging from carefully wrought dialogue and close camera work creating scenes every bit as emotionally complex as any of Abrahamson's previous efforts.

When Richard falls for teammate Conor's ex-girlfriend Lara it leads to a violent conclusion and the wholesome early interactions and jocular banter of the film's first half quickly subside into a remorse laden third act that ensorcels every scene with a heavy hubris. Backed up by a large supporting cast of talented actors, not least Richard's father (The Killing's Lars Mikkelsen), Jack Reynor (as Richard) deserves special commendation here, and the moments he spends alone wracked with an almost convulsive guilt remain particularly difficult to think about.

- Cormac O’Brien