What Richard Did

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Ireland, 2012

Cornerhouse, 13 January 2013

What Richard Did

Rather an impressive film, a closely observed, nuanced drama set mainly amongst Ireland’s elite young.

Richard is one of the brightest and best that the Emerald Isle has to offer, a sportsman as well as a scholar, and when he wants a girl he generally gets her.  One night he gets mixed up in an alcohol-fuelled brawl and a lad, a friend of his, dies.  The whole of his future, his cushy and so far privileged existence, is then put in jeopardy.

What is fascinating to watch is the tussle between Richard’s desire to do the right thing, to come clean with the guards, and the competing impulse to protect himself and his position.  And his friend’s bereaved parents be damned.

When you get right down to it, are the so-called elite (Richard being an exemplar of the breed) self-centred and spoilt, an unredeemable arrogant bunch who believe the normal rules don’t apply to them, or are they virtuous and just?  To the film’s credit, the ambiguity as to what Richard will do is maintained right up until the end.