What Richard Did
by Dave O’Flanagan
In partnership with the Irish Film Board, Curzon Home Cinema kicks off a season celebrating the best in Irish cinema. The line-up includes the critically acclaimed and award-winning Parked and Waveriders, as well as What Richard Did, Frank, Mister John, Eden, Hill Street, Snap and Barbaric Genius. To mark the occasion here at Dog and Wolf, we’re bringing you our favourite picks from the season. We’ve already taken a look at Parked and Barbaric Genius – as well as having reviewed Frank and Mister John previously – and continue our coverage today with the critically acclaimed Lenny Abrahamson directed drama, What Richard Did.
Richard Karlsen (Jack Reynor) is a handsome and popular rugby player who is the undisputed alpha-male of his group of South Dublin teenagers. Coming to the end of school and start of university, Richard leads a privileged life with good friends, a very close family and the future laid out before him. On a drunken night out however, a moment of tragic violence shatters all of this, and Richard’s life, as well as the lives of his friends and family are changed forever.
Based on Kevin Power’s novel ‘A Bad Day in Blackrock’, Malcolm Campbell’s astute and enthralling script nails the subtlety and nuance of life in the more privileged parts of Dublin. The aimless adolescent banter between Richard and his friends is painfully accurate – as are the strangulated ‘Dortspeak’ South County Dublin accents. The crisp and beautiful visuals facilitate an overwhelming sense of tranquility that ultimately – and eventually – belies the maelstrom of emotion that bubbles up within Richard. Jack Reynor produces one of the finest breakout performances in recent memory, it’s a demanding role that Reynor delivers mesmerically with quiet confidence. Unusually, it’s even more of a revelation that the rest of the cast are up to a similar standard. Roisín Murphy in particular is natural and charming as Richard’s girlfriend Lara, and whether intentionally or otherwise all of their interactions feel unscripted and organic. The success of Abrahamson’s film comes in the fact that the drama is allowed to breathe; long takes and a minimalist original score imbue the film with a rawness that allows the emotion to sink into your psyche. The overwhelming sense of dread that smothers the scenes following the incident is eerily effective. Lenny Abrahamson’s perfectly observed slice of upper-class suburbia is one of the most outstanding films to emerge from Ireland in decades.
The Irish Film Season begins on 14th November. For further details go to the Curzon Home Cinema website.