What Richard did

Dir: Lenny Abrahamson




Irish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson’s (Adam & Paul, Garage) latest is a terrific tense account of a young Irish public school boy who makes one terrible mistake which will change his life forever.

Richard (newcomer Jack Reynor) is a middle-class rugby player destined for great things until a moment’s thoughtless violence turns him from star pupil to guilt-wracked outsider. As pressure mounts to turn himself in, his parents and friends close ranks to hide him, but guilt eats away at his conscience. It’s a beautifully calibrated, understated, perfectly pitched work which doesn’t waste a single shot.

What really makes it stand out is its unusual social milieu which provides a fresh insight into a side of Ireland rarely seen on-screen. Private schools, beach houses, 4x4s; the trimmings of wealth and power are something we’re more familiar with in say French or American cinema. Abrahamson doesn’t try to make his characters particularly likeable, but nor does he pass obvious judgement. Instead he creates believable three dimensional people while examining how the privileges of class and wealth serves to protect his protagonists from institutional justice at the cost of interior peace.

If we think why should we care about the travails of this privileged set we are missing the point. It’s a kind of inverted Ken Loach film more interested in an existential justice than that of class conflict. Yet class is writ-large throughout along with the injustice of how wealth buys a kind of choice the poor never have, a freedom from responsibility for those that choose it. Perhaps it’s closest antecedents are those of the European Art Cinema of Antonioni with his open narratives, Dumont with his spiritual concerns, use of landscape and young untrained actors or the British films of Joanna Hogg.

Booking Information


Curzon Film

Release Date

11 January 2013

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