What Richard Did: A different look at Ireland
by Jessica Blank
- Lenny Abrahamson showcases What Richard Did at the London Film Festival, a exceptional piece of cinema and a multifaceted investigation into the psychology of today's golden youth in Ireland
Five years after the release of his critically acclaimed and award-winning Garage [+see also:
interview: Ed Guiney
interview: Jean-François Deveau
interview: Lenny Abrahamson
film profile], Irish director Lenny Abrahamson returns to the big screen with his real-life drama What Richard Did [+see also:
film profile]. The film is based on the Kevin Power novel Bad Day in Blackrock, which itself is loosely based on a tragic true story of the death of a young man outside a nightclub.
Richard (Jack Reynor) is a teenage boy who has grown up in a comfortable milieu of Dublin. He is an eager overachiever, finding success not only in education but also as a member of the local rugby team. Like all teenagers he spends most of his time with his friends, going out and partying, and hoping to find the right girl. In this case, the girl is Lara, a beautiful yet enigmatic character who, while bringing Richard much happiness, is also the vehicle for his uncontrollable jealousy. One fatal night changes Richard's life forever and dismantles his seemingly perfect existence.
What Richard Did is an exceptional film, the effect of which is two-fold; on the one hand painting a picture of Dublin's golden youth, on the other revealing the deep psychological torture that an untold secret can hold. The film itself revolves around these young adults; the camera seems almost to be 'one of them', at times even reminiscent of cinéma vérité. The characters and their performances are natural; Richard is the charming boy loved by all and Lara beautifully embodies the innocence on the brink of adulthood of the teenage years. After the trauma the tone changes. Abrahamson uses the lush nature of the Irish seaside to articulate Richard's emptiness and isolation, intensifying sensory perception, resulting in a deeply moving experience for the spectator.
With What Richard Did, not only does Abrahamson provide an open window onto the youth and beauty of Ireland but reveals the strength of its cinema with a film that is intricate, intriguing and inviting.
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