WHAT RICHARD DID – TFF ’13 Movie Review
I started my first trip to the Tribeca Film Festival with What Richard Did, a stark drama detailing how one senseless act can ruin your life. Set on the beaches of Ireland and a nearby suburb, it follows Richard – a young rugby athlete and student who’s got his life figured out. He’s a great leader on his team, handling fun non-hazardous hazing and schmoozing with parents and girls deftly. He’s going places and he knows it.
We spend the first third of the film constantly seeing how great a guy he is:
- He’s great with his friends and team, balancing being the center of attention and passing the torch whenever appropriate.
- He’s nice to the kids in the grades below him, even looking out when one of the girls has a little too much to drink.
- He plans adorable, thoughtful dates for his new girlfriend and never pressures her into anything.
Jack Reynor is tremendous as Richard. He does an excellent job of making you fall in love with this guy. Cute, nonthreatening, but still manly – he’s the epitome of the classic saying “girls want to date him and guys want to be him.” However, it’s when things fall apart that his acting talent truly shines through.
After one senseless act, while drunk at a party, we see all of these great qualities diminish one by one. Ruining relationships left and right, it gets so bleak that it seemed as though he might kill himself in the cold, isolated waters by his beach house. Thankfully he never goes down that dark path, in part thanks to the support from his father.
Lars Mikkelsen as Richard’s dad, Peter, leaves a lasting impression. What would you do in his shoes? Would you turn in your only son for his crime or help him try to maintain the image that he spent 18 years creating and emboding? Does one action change him forever in yours and society eyes? Mikkelsen plays inner turmoil well, leaving the audience in constant suspense over whether or not he’ll turn in his son.
The film has so many strengths, but one flaw was the superficiality of the main love triangle in the film. We spend so much time seeing how great the relationship is between Richard and Lara (Roisin Murphy), and that all falls apart too quickly. The other male love interest never gets more than a scene or two, so things that should have packed an emotional punch were left a little flat. However, this superficiality could just be representative of young, teen love in general. Either way, the film does not suffer much from it.
What Richard Did is available on VOD now.