It would seem to be a betrayal to discuss in any detail the plot of What Richard Did; specifically to explain what, exactly, Richard (Jack Reynor) did would do the film a disservice. It is sufficient to say this is a deeply-felt, emotionally-complex drama concerning Richard – handsome, charismatic teenage rugby star – and leave it at that.
Director Lenny Abrahamson has an interesting approach to the material. What Richard Did has a naturalistic, improvisational feel for the most part, but that’s contrasted with its appearance: a cool, palette and crisp, sharp framing. It’s fitting for a film that’s simultaneously a rough edged portrait of a real person and a larger parable about morality. About how the choices we make – individually, in groups, as a society – are mixed up in the tangled threads of right and wrong, fair and unfair, selfish and selfless.
The moments when Abrahamson relinquishes the authentic tone are deliberate and effective. The conclusion, in particular, is an ellipsis that resonates because it forces the audience to reflect on themselves, to consider themselves in the context of the film’s events and decisions. What Richard Did is a singular film, eliciting a poignant emotional response while provoking intellectual analysis. Recommended.