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By Charlie David Page
10th June 2013

Richard has it all. He's got the looks, the brains, the athletic talent, and the girl of his dreams. But what happens when one foolish decision threatens to change the rest of his life?

This film is the study of a breakdown in a character. Richard's life is very structured: he has a strong obligation to his friends, he doesn't smoke or drink to excess, he has a strict training regimen for his rugby. His future is laid out in front of him, and his world is very black and white. However, when Richard lets his emotions get the better of him, his perfect life is thrown into disarray, and we watch the young man change from a pinnacle of his community to a disenchanted, whimpering mess.


As impressive as this transformation is, what's more stunning is the enduring sympathy for the character after the pivotal mistake, referred to in the title of this film. That's entirely attributed to 21 year old Jack Reynor, whose portrayal of Richard shows a skill and maturity beyond his years. He transforms from a regular boy into a tormented soul (no wonder Michael Bay has cast him in the lead of 'Transformers 4' - let's just hope it doesn't ruin him).

This film is a true piece of teamwork. There are exceptional performances across the board, particularly from the younger cast. Cinematographer David Grennan gives the entire film a melancholy feel, capturing the Irish country and seaside in a stunning but sombre style. Stephen Rennicks' score acts as an undertone to the tension that builds throughout this entire film. Leonard Abrahamson's direction brings the elements together to deliver, by its conclusion, an emotionally perplexing film.

Jack Reynor transforms from a regular boy into a tormented soul.

The event of Richard's downfall is a brutal event; visually brief and yet challenging to watch. Past this point, it's difficult to describe the film without revealing too much, but the turning point of the film changes Richard, his friends and his family, where loyalties are tested and hard decisions are made - but then, you wouldn't want me to ruin the film and give it away, would you?

'What Richard Did' is in no way a revelation as far as the story is concerned. What is remarkable, however, is how the story is handled. There's sentimentality and empathy in a situation where it most likely shouldn't prosper, and the finale will leave you questioning the decision between right and wrong.

‘What Richard Did’ is playing at the Sydney Film Festival on Friday 7th June at 7:45pm and Monday 10th June at 6:30pm. Click here for more reviews on the 2013 Sydney Film Festival.

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