What Richard Did (Lenny Abrahamson, 2012)

What's it about? 18 year-old Richard (Jack Reynor) is wealthy, good-looking and popular, a natural leader amongst his peer group of privileged kids from the affluent families in South Dublin. He has the world on a plate, but a terrible incident threatens to jeopardize all that.


Is it any good? Excellent. You might not be able to identify directly with Richard (being a handsome alpha-male myself, I can, obviously), but Abrahamson's beautifully composed film does a sterling job of drawing us into his world, and the moral crisis he faces after he does what he did. Helped by naturalistic performances and a superb, star-making performance from Reynor, this is a delicately nuanced and authentic portrait of teen life, without any of the forced histrionics featured in many other teen films. Anyone who has been a teenager will recognize those wanky, but, like, meaningful conversations, the immature romantic tangles, the confusing, cusp-of-adulthood emotions and the awkwardness of talking with parents about something really serious. I think it's as fine a coming-of-age film as I've seen for a while, as Richard struggles to comes to terms with the consequences of his actions and begins to realize that his easy life may be supported by a rather rotten society. However, Abrahamson is restrained in his depiction of the more unsavoury instincts which the Celtic Tiger cultivated in the Irish people, preferring to leave these as subtle background details to pick up on. Because it doesn't spoon-feed you, some will no doubt complain it's too slow and too ambiguous, but I could not disagree more. It's intelligent, masterfully assured film-making and, ultimately, it should make you think. Remember that night you got into that drunken scrape with your mates, and you had a good laugh about it the day after, and it has become a good old anecdote, and it all worked out okay in the end? Well, what if it hadn't?


Anything else I should know? It will have a greater resonance for anyone familiar with the notorious real-life Brian Murphy incident, which so consumed Celtic Tiger Ireland and resulted in hand-wringing self-examination of class differences in the country. That incident was the loose inspiration for the book Bad Day in Blackrock, which in turn inspired this film. In other news, Reynor's astonishing performance catapulted him into the big-time, being hand-picked by Michael Bay to star in Transformers 4. Presumably the fact that he does a lot of staring off into space in What Richard Did meant he'd be perfectly suited to staring at nothing whilst acting in Transformers 4. As for Abrahamson, his next project Frank sees him team up with Michael Fassbender for a story about a pop singer who wears a giant paper-mache head, inspired by the legendary Frank Sidebottom. I'm sold.


What does the Fonz think? It's, loike, a really super piece of ort. Roysh.


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