Star rating - 8/10
Loosely based on the compelling 2008 novel by Irish writer Kevin Power, which was itself based on real life events, What Richard Did is a thoughtful, slow paced morality movie, and is all the more impactful for being so. Director Lenny Abrahamson successfully emphasises the privilege and wealth of his subjects, amongst the leafy avenues and large houses of middle class Dublin.
Richard Karlsen is a gifted all rounder; an academic high achiever and star of the rugby team. His family are loving, supportive, and materially very well set up. He and his friends have just finished sixth form and are spending the summer frolicking at his parents' beach house, and throwing beachside barbeques before they will head off to university. Jack Reynor is excellent at playing Richard, with all his outward confidence but inward insecurities.
These more negative facets of the golden boy come to the fore through his fledgling romance with Lara (Róisin Murphy). Her ex boyfriend hangs around a little too much for Richard's liking, and tragedy ensues when a fight at a party gets out of hand. The film, after the slow build up to this one event that changes everything forever, is a study in morality and how such a tragic incident affects people from privileged backgrounds.
And special mention must also go to Lars Mikkelsen, who as Richard's father, agonisingly portrays the anguish he goes through as he realises what his son has done. You may recognise him as the smarmy politician from the first series of The Killing. Lars, incidentally, is the brother of Mads Mikkelsen, who himself has had recent notable performances in A Royal Affair and The Hunt. This film has much of the feel of those Scandinavian gems - pared back storytelling and oodles of atmosphere. It is relatively short at just under an hour and a half, and leaves some of the deduction to the audience, which is a welcome departure from many movie offerings.