For anyone who grew up in Dublin; an unsettling stab of familiarity leaps out from every scene.
These are the places that we can close our eyes and walk through in our mind's eye. These are the lazy, drunk conversations we have had at 3am. These are the summers that we have lived. This is a story that should have happened to no-one, but (as the film subtly portrays), could have happened to anyone.
Part of the almost extreme identifying factor of this film is carried by Jack Reynor (Richard), who gives a glittering performance as he exposes the raw, frightening entrails of human nature. He manages to lead us intimately through Richard’s disturbing voyage of vulnerability.
That being said, the true star of this film has to be Lenny Abrahamson. With this latest film under his belt, he has now directed three crucial films depicting Irish society. Just as he did in his previous two (Adam and Paul and Garage) he slowly pushes What Richard Did to an almost unbearable pressure.
Richard’s life begins as the epitome of leafy privileged suburbia; the summer house at the shaded Irish beach, the rugby team in the elite private school, his own Volkswagen Golf that has at this stage become a cliché for teenagers of the upper echelons of Irish society to possess. Despite the light-hearted dialogue being fairly amusing, there are times when it almost reads like an excerpt from a Ross O’Carroll Kelly book.
However as the film goes on, Abrahamson steers the story into an increasingly haunting portrayal of how one devastating moment of one solitary night can have irreversible effects on the human psyche. What Richard Did is a film that needs to be seen at least once by the Irish public, but one that will spread unease through its bones.
Tara Brady of The Irish Times claimed that this was “the most important Irish film of this century”, and the undeniable truth is that I can't disagree with her.