What Richard Did

What Richard Did


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

What Richard is and what he may become are as important, if not more so, than what he does at the midway point of Lenny Abrahamson's carefully paced film. And before then, the director makes sure we get a real sense of this handsome, middle-class teenager, who is looked upon fondly by his peers and his parents.

Richard (Jack Treynor) is no spoilt brat, however, and Abrahamson establishes early that despite being a firm part of a teenage environment - with the realistic depiction of youthful booziness a far cry from the recent excesses of Spring Breakers - he has a sense of responsibility, as though he wants to live up to the expectations placed upon him and exit his youth through the sign marked 'adult' as quickly as possible.

Like all teenagers, however, young lust beckons and when his attentions turn to Lara (Róisín Murphy), it's unlikely that trouble will be far away, considering that she is already in a relationship with fellow rugby team player Conor (Sam Keeley). The question is, how reliable are your morals when they are put to the test?

"Failure's not an option - it's a certainty." says Richard's dad (Lars Mikkelsen), who despite their firm bond, has also handed him a strong sense of insecurity. His words play in to the sense of unease created by the volatile, hormone fuelled atmosphere when the kids are out drinking and that title, which you know doesn't bode well.

If there is a slight sense of meandering in some of Malcolm Powell's scripting (based Kevin Power's novel Bad Day At Blackrock) then it is largely redeemed by Abrahamson's tight grip on the reality of the teenagers' situations. These are regular kids, the sort who would normally go on to live their adult lives with a few war stories and some fond memories, but who thanks to one drink-fuelled act, find their dream in the balance.

Abrahamson also delivers the emotional goods, particularly in a beautifully acted scene between Richard and his father that is as surprising as it is believable. This is Richard's film and despite what he does, we stay with him as he tries to make sense of this new, changed Richard, a person that he doesn't recognise and who finds himself torn between trying to retreat into the comfort of childhood things, running away or truly manning up. Subtle and powerful, Abrahmson shows how easy it is for things to turn sour even in the most privileged and upstanding environments.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2013
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When a teenager does something shockingly out of character, his future is threatened.
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Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Malcolm Campbell

Starring: Jack Reynor, Róisín Murphy, Sam Keeley, Lars Mikkelsen

Year: 2012

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Ireland

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