Reviews

5 stars. The characters are nuanced and brilliantly realised: the kids are privileged yet have little in common with the amoral, spoiled monsters that populate Larry Clarke’s similarly paced Bully. They slip off for drinks and sex in the park but they also do school spirit and say thank you. Richard behaves callously but mostly cluelessly. The clean, casual lines of David Grennan’s cinematography add to the sensation that we’re watching a greatly needed antidote to an entire hysterical history of delinquent youths on screen. There are no direct references to the source novel (Kevin Power’s Bad Day in Blackrock) or the case that preceded it. There are only imperfect teens with imperfect lives ahead.”
- Tara Brady, Irish Times. Read the full review here
5 stars. This may seem like a film posing questions about class and privilege but What Richard Did is really a sympathetic and moving portrayal of a much-lampooned archetype, a rich kid who endangers everything by doing something stupid that is all too believable. If anything, it’s a film that quietly insists that human frailty and human stupidity are classless. But Abrahamson doesn’t do morality tales – he’s much more serious and real than that and this is a beautifully constructed and acted example of his art.”
- Alan Corr, RTE.ie. Read the full review here
4 stars. What Richard Did is an engrossing and intelligent drama that throbs in the mind for hours after the final credits.”
– Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian. Read the full review here
4 stars. A tough, impactful film that offers a sometimes uncomfortable but always gripping examination of cause and effect.”
– Helen O’Hara, Empire. Read the full review here
4 stars. Malcolm Campbell’s script develops a sharp undertow of dread as the aftermath of what Richard did starts to haunt. It’s a morality tale which trusts the audience to deduce the moral. Reynor, who’s in nearly every scene, holds the centre as high-flying Richard contemplates his fall from grace, but slowly, agonisingly.”
– Anthony Quinn, The Independent. Read the full review here
4 stars. Abrahamson has pulled off something quietly remarkable: a study of morality which never feels like a treatise, a bracingly realistic film about teenagers which never becomes patronising and a gripping melodrama which swerves sentiment. He may also have unearthed a genuine star”
- Tom Huddleston, Time Out London. Read the full review here
“Lenny Abrahamson’s languidly dramatic new film is a slow-burn story of a terrible and senseless incident that spirals out of control. Beautifully shot, impressively performed and increasingly powerful, it may be a modest in terms of casting and story, but What Richard Did is a remarkably impressive film”
- Mark Adams, Screen Daily. Read the full review here
“Grounded in excellent, highly naturalistic performances, What Richard Did is a thriller about a violent crime with admirably little interest in either violence or crime. A more didactic, schematic film-maker might have exploited the story’s upscale social milieu to score some obvious points about the moral bankruptcy and latent savagery of the ruling class. Thankfully, Abrahamson takes a more nuanced and non-judgmental approach, showing instead how split-second mistakes become lasting tragedies, and how guilt ripples out through family and friends.”
- Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter. Read the full review here
5 stars.Beautifully shot by Abrahmson, this film is an examination of how one deals with tragedy that they ultimately brought upon themselves. Powerful and thought provoking, it is a masterpiece”
- Tom White, The Movie Bit. Read the full review here
4.5 stars. This terrific drama heralds Lenny Abrahamson as a major director. In similar style to his previous two features Adam & Paul, Garage, and the TV series Prosperity, Abrahamson (for the first time working without writer Mark O’Halloran) is not concerned with flashy shots; this is a director who is only interested in character and plot. The story likes to exist in the cracks, what most movies would deem downtime, which gives each scene a natural feel, allowing the actors room to be the characters, and all concerned deliver. Jack Reynor is so good it’s chilly but he’s not on his own: Roisin Murphy, Sam Keeley, Fionn Walton and Gavin Drea are ones for the future.”
- Gavin Burke, Entertainment.ie. Read the full review here
“Promising young thesp Jack Reynor particularly impresses as the title character, a handsome, affable kid who makes a fatal mistake and then grapples with guilt. Looser and more improvisational in tone than Abrahamson’s previous work, but just as elegantly shot on digital as the striking “Garage”

- Leslie Felperin, Variety. Read the full review here
4 stars. Thanks to brilliant acting and clever improvised dialogue, this is one of the most naturalistic depictions of teenage life I can remember seeing on the big screen.”
– Andy Lee, The Daily Star. Read the full review here
4 stars. It’s a wrenching, rich, character-driven film about a young man haunted by a powerful force, perpetually anxiety-inducing in its second half as it surrenders the full, soul-decaying measure of guilt’s power; the ending, needless to say, is a nail-biter alright. Doing the right thing is never as easy as it seems in Lenny Abrahamson’s sublimely acted and almost unbearably tense drama.”
- Sean Munro, What Culture. Read the full review here
4.5 stars. What Richard Did is a compelling, tough film about modern Ireland that perhaps leaves one too many stones unturned, yet still makes such a strong impression that it will stay on in your mind long after the credits roll. It also makes a strong argument for Abrahamson as arguably Ireland’s most important living director and cultural agitator. Highly recommended.”

- Darragh McGrath, Spooool.com. Read the full review here
96/100. As much as it excels as a piece of technical filmmaking, this is a success first and foremost in terms of its unrelenting adherence to the truth of contemporary youth, capturing the rhythm of its central generation in a way worthy of comparison to The Graduate before it”

- Ronan Doyle, Next Projection. Read the full review here
“It is to Abrahamson’s credit that he never throws his characters away on easy laughs, nor does he attempt to construct a mind-numbing morality tale based on excess. His singular vision prevents What Richard Did becoming tawdry, tabloid material, another tale of teenagers ‘up to no good’, and allows it to develop into a meditative, melancholy dissection of growing up and what that exactly means. The young cast are uniformly excellent, delivering convincing supporting performances that don’t rely on vowels to do the work for them. If you are in need of hilarious DORT speak, do look elsewhere.”

- Nicole Flattery, Meg.ie. Read the full review here
“A slow-burning and emotionally provocative character study of guilt with a distinct mood that stays with you long after you’ve left the cinema.”

- Conor Luke Barry, University Observer. Read the full review here
“Lead actor Jack Reynor portrays all of Richard’s many sides with near perfection. He is the heart of this film, and his attention to the details of human personality create a character that feels so real, you’re certain Richard is an old friend. While the rest of the young supporting cast is also excellent, it is Lars Mikkelsen who stands out as Richard’s father. His performance is heartbreaking as a father struggling to come to terms with finding out who his son truly is.”

- Trista DeVries, Toronto Film Scene. Read the full review here
“Writer Malcolm Campbell only tells the audience only what they need to know, but his story never feels vague and his ear for teen dialogue is superb. Abrahamson utilizes negative space around tight close ups perfectly for a film that feels like the world around these characters keeps threatening to eat them whole. But the real find here has to be Reynor, who comes from out of nowhere to deliver one of the most nuanced and psychologically gritty performances of the year.”

- Andrew Parker, Dorkshelf.com. Read the full review here
“DP David Grennan and Abrahamson have a fine touch with the volatile ensemble dynamics of kids with high energy, quick tempers and the fragile vulnerability of youth. You come out of “What Richard Did” searching for an Irish word for karma. Criticwire grade: B+”

- David D’Arcy, Indiwire. Read the full review here
4 stars. Abrahamson takes things in a slightly more mainstream direction with What Richard Did, embracing a more obviously dramatic narrative but still embellishing it with convincing performances and a naturalistic feel. He draws marvellous performances from his young actors and a potentially star making turn from Reynor, together with some beautiful lensing from David Greenan, easily makes What Richard Did one of the best Irish made films of the year.”
- Daniel Anderson, Click. Read the full review here.
“In lesser hands, What Richard Did could have been a judgmental mess. Instead, it’s a measured human drama set in a Dublin rarely seen on screen. It’s easily the best and most important Irish film since, well, Garage”
- George Byrne, Herald.ie. Read the full review here
5 stars. The performance by Jack Reynor as his perfect world begins to crumble is both devastating and emotionally powerful, what we see from this talented young actor is an incredibly realistic breakdown that will stick with it’s audience far after the credits roll. What Richard Did is a quiet and haunting portrayal of a young man who is forced to face himself in the mirror and ask “what have I done?”.

- Nick Watson, Press +1. Read full review here
4 stars. A real plant-you-in-the-moment, gripping story and more great output from Irish talent”

- Will, Ramp.ie. Read the full review here
“It’s a tough tale of adolescence and the preciousness of life that hits a whole new level of emotion in the aftermath of its life-altering event. Abrahamson lets his actors own the screen as Reynor’s internal battle spills out in a fit of rage we’re unsure he can ever truly escape. A character study on guilt and remorse, these young actors captivate in their heartbreaking authenticity.”

- Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage. Read the full review here
8/10. Utterly compelling from beginning to end; ‘What Richard Did’ is one of the best pure drama films I have seen in a while. Great performances, real drama and solid productions qualities make this experience a worthwhile one.”

- Paul Hickey, Chunk.ie. Read the full review here
4 stars. One of the best films of the year”

- Gordon Hayden, Ireland AM. Watch the full review here. From 3 minutes in
5/5. Ultimately, What Richard Did is an awe-inspiring combination of elements that is greater than the sum of its parts. Taken either as a critique of contemporary Irish youth, or adolescence in general, the subject matter will strike a very powerful chord in the hearts of teens and parents alike. It is so well grounded in reality, that we cannot help to emphasize with the characters onscreen. The director allows this very distinctive atmosphere to flow through his film, which is made possible through particularly intelligent writing, brisk pacing and some of the most impressive performances to come out of Ireland in quite some time. If you are looking for a film to leave a lasting impression, this is it.”

- Stephen Hill, Bone-Idle.ie. Read the full review here
What Richard Did is a masterfully written piece that prides itself on pinning down teen verbiage in a way that doesn’t degenerate into a parodic South Dublin drawl or stray into territories often popularly occupied by Irish Times column lampoons. And, although, sometimes played for laughs with aware, amusing moments of teenage conversation in privileged environs impeccably rounding out writer Malcolm Campbell’s braiding together of the South Dublin life led by popular rugby player Richard, his friends and teammates, the story remains verisimilitudinous in every essence with raw tangible truths emerging from carefully wrought dialogue and close camera work creating scenes every bit as emotionally complex as any of Abrahamson’s previous efforts.”
- Cormac O’Brien, Highbrowse.ie. Read the full review here
“Early scenes crackle with relatable, occasionally hilarious dialogue, touching on cultural touchstones without feeling contrived – ‘You’re gona play professional, and keep up the studies? You’re like the f**king Rose of Tralee’. Yet like all great tragedies, its a story with universal appeal. What Richard Did is a film for the ages, depicting the confusion and selfishness of youth in a way that’s unrivalled by any Irish film in recent years.”
- Oliver Nolan, The University Times. Read the full review here
5 stars. Never concerned with flashy calling-card shots, he is solely interested in character and plot, and in What Richard Did, the plot exists in the cracks, in moments where it looks like not a lot is happening. It’s Abrahamson skill that gives each scene a natural progression, allowing the actors room to be the characters, and they deliver.”
-Gavin Burke, The Irish Independent. Read the full review here
4 stars. What distinguishes this film from other Irish films of its ilk is its authenticity. The dialogue is pitch-perfect, while the young performers are all utterly believable in their roles. It is a blistering and sometimes disturbing portrayal of Irish youth, but one that steers clear of the hysteria that so often overwhelms such youth-centric films.”
-The College View.com. Read the full review here