Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: What Richard Did (2013)

Jack Reynor gives a stunning performance.

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Produced by Ed Guiney
Written by Malcolm Campbell (screenplay); Kevin Power (novel)
Starring Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Lars Mikkelsen, Lorraine Pilkington, Sam Keeley and Michelle Doherty

****

One of the greatest cinematic experiences is when a film surprises me. I'd rather be blindsided than have my expectations met. Needless to say, Abrahamson's little Irish film was such an experience. Set during one tumultuous summer, Richard Karlsen (Reynor) is a star athlete, awaiting his start at college in the fall. Days go by, and he forms a relationship with Lara (Murphy), the ex-girlfriend of his teammate Conor (Keeley). With a new girlfriend and a bright future ahead, Richard has it all coming to him. Then something tragic occurs, something that will haunt him the rest of his days.

I'm not familiar with Abrahamson's other work, but he delivers a well-crafted exercise in minimalism with this gem. Moreover, the film is really bare, relying on the actors' naturalistic performances to succeed. While everyone does a fine job, it is, naturally, the titular character whose portrayal is the most noteworthy. Reynor (soon to star in the upcoming Transformers sequel) is a wonderful discovery. His breakout performance is full of tenderness, angst and torment. It's one of the best performances of the year so far, and the film is equally worthy. Of course, it's Reynor's powerful work that makes the film soar to new heights. Here's hoping for a long career for this guy, and a newfound audience for this brilliant film.

Oscar Potential: None (In a better world, a Best Actor nomination would be possible.)

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for reviewing this Josh! Sound very intriguing indeed. I can only imagine what Richard did, wow. Thanks for not spoiling it for us too :D

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    1. You're welcome Ruth! Hope you get to see it soon. :)

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  2. Good review, best actor oscar nom would be a good way of getting this movie out to a wider audience. I noticed it won 5 IFTAs at Irish film awards-for lead actor Reynor, and best film, so that counts for something.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, winning 5 "Irish Oscars" is a great achievement for this film. I'm just glad it was honored somewhere.

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  3. "One of the greatest cinematic experiences is when a film surprises me. I'd rather be blindsided than have my expectations met" ... Yes! Beautifully said. I've never heard of this movie, but I'll add it to my queue.

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    1. Thanks Steph! I think you'll like it.

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    1. Yes! I decided at the last second to give Ethan Hawke Best Actor in my ballot for the first half of the year, but Jack Reynor probably has a locked-up nomination for my final lineup. He blew me away.

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