Film Review: What Richard Did

Falling from grace is never an easy road. It’s one that, if we had the choice, we would avoid it at all costs. But would the repercussions be something we could live with?Lenny Abrahamson’s film What Richard Did follows the movements of a young Irish lad, whose emotions get out of control at a house party. The outcomes of this night take a toll on not only Richard, but the lives of those who look up to and admire him.Jack Reynor plays Richard, a talented school rugby player with dreams of becoming a member of the national Irish rugby team. His boyish banter with friends and talent on the field makes him one of the popular boys among the teenagers in the south side of Dublin, as well as with the ladies.Yet, at a pre-gaff beach field party before university starts — and yes, it looks as amazing as it sounds — he notices Lara (Roisin Murphey) sitting among a few of his acquaintances, including one of his teammates, Conor (Sam Keeley). Soon enough their attraction and curiosity glues them together and blossoms into your everyday, up-and-down teenage-fuelled relationship.However, to the dislike of Richard, Conor remains in the picture. Conor’s fondness for Lara and his attempts at interfering with the relationship bring Richard to boiling point. His actions get him kicked out of the aforementioned house party, with Conor and Lara still inside. The disturbing event that follows is one that the four witnesses — Richard, Lara and two of Richard’s friends — could not forget.As what Richard did is unveiled, his internal and external relationships with himself and others are tested. His friendships with some fall, while his relationship with Lara is brought to the brink of collapse. Yet, it’s Richard’s internal debate within himself where we see Abrahamson’s talent as a director shine, and his lead acting choice pay off.Cinematography wise, Abrahamson’s film is a beautiful one. The extensive shots in the natural world or just simply in Richard’s car while he is driving around urban streets, adds to the intensity of the film, especially after the event where emotions are running high.The silence from speech in most scenes involving Richard is ironically deafening, as viewers are forced to project their own thoughts and feelings about his situation and what he is feeling into the character himself. There is a raw sense of guilt and entrapment, which is most beautifully set when Richard returns to the beach where he met Lara.The subtle musical interjections within these speechless scenes, add an innocence and immaturity to the film and show that Richard is not ready to deal with what has happened to him; he is still just a young man, dependent on his father’s pride and wisdom.What Richard Did deals with moral issues, in which any teenage boy could find themselves. It’s a film that goes through many emotive processes of pride, lust, love and guilt, making it compatible and attractive to all audiences. It’s somewhat educational situation places this film in prime position for parents to remember and teach their teenagers about their moral compass, or for a young adult to remind themselves of it.It’s a thrilling drama filled with obvious anonymity about what has happened. It taunts the bonds of any relationship facing a situation that can break a family or the community apart. So what exactly did Richard do? You’ll just have to watch the film to find out.What Richard Did is one of 13 films featuring in this year’s Next Gen program, as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival. MIFF runs from July 25 to August 11. For more information and details on how to buy tickets visit Aimee Malotsis

July 10th 2013
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