What Richard Did

What Richard Did is a 2012 Irish film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Malcolm Campbell. The film is loosely based on Kevin Power's Bad Day in Blackrock, a fictionalised novel inspired by the real-life death of Brian Murphy in 2000.[2] It won the best Irish film of the year award at the 10th Irish Film & Television Awards[3] and was the most commercially successful Irish film of 2012.

What Richard Did
DVD cover
Directed byLenny Abrahamson
Produced byEd Guiney
Written byMalcolm Campbell
StarringJack Reynor
Music byStephen Rennicks
CinematographyDavid Grennan
Edited byNathan Nugent
Release date
  • 5 October 2012 (2012-10-05)
Running time
87 minutes
Box office$488,327[1]

It has screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival and was selected to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April 2013.[4]


Richard Karlsen (Jack Reynor) is the well-mannered, intelligent, and undisputed alpha-male of his privileged set of teenagers in Dublin's Southside, having been a schoolboy rugby player for the Raglan Hall Senior Cup team. Most of the group have just left secondary school, and they are enjoying their last summer before university. Richard becomes romantically interested in Lara Hogan (Róisín Murphy), a girl whose boyfriend is Conor Harris (Sam Keeley), one of Richard's teammates. Richard gradually woos her away, souring his relationship with Conor. Things come to a head during a late-night house party: Richard is jealous of Lara's ongoing platonic friendship with Conor and, when Richard is barred from re-entering the house while the two remain inside, tensions rise. Conor throws a punch at Richard, at which point two mutual friends, Cian (Fionn Walton) and Stephen (Gavin Drea), step in to defend Richard and deliver several blows to Conor, with Richard kicking him in the head. The group go home, leaving Conor to stagger back towards the party.

The next morning, Richard is shocked to learn that Conor was later found dead outside the house. Horrified, he meets up with Cian and Stephen, and the three agree to keep the incident a secret, no-one else (apart from Lara) being directly aware of their involvement. Lara reassures Richard that she lied to Garda investigators to protect Richard, telling them that she had left the party with Richard before the brawl broke out. Richard attends a Garda station and gives a false statement to this effect. He tells the truth to his father, Peter (Lars Mikkelsen), who is distraught and tells him to stay alone at the family's beach house; while there, Richard breaks down in panic over what has happened.

A few days later, Peter has ascertained through contacts that the Garda investigation is focusing on gatecrashers to the party, and that there are no separate inquiries or suspects. Richard attends a wake for Conor with his rugby teammates, but, after hearing an emotional speech from Conor's mother (who is incredulous at the lack of witnesses to the attack) during the funeral mass, he is consumed by guilt. He privately tells Lara that he plans to turn himself in to the authorities, and suggests eloping with her, but he is seen doing neither. The film ends with Richard in a lecture hall, beginning his university studies.



Unlike Abrahamson's previous two films, the screenplay for What Richard Did was not written by Mark O'Halloran but by Malcolm Campbell.[5] The details of the plot deviate significantly from the source novel. The director worked with the cast for a full year in advance of production while script development was ongoing, holding a series of workshops in an effort to make successive drafts more reflective of contemporary Irish youth culture.[6]

Shot on location in Dublin and Wicklow, the film was financed by the Irish Film Board and Screen Scene,[7] and was produced by Element Pictures.[8] At the request of Kevin Power, author of the book that was the source material for the movie, the university scenes at the end of the film were shot at University College Dublin.[8]


Critical response

Reviews for What Richard Did were overwhelmingly positive. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 91% based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10.[9] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 80 out of 100, based on reviews from 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Peter Bradshaw called the film slow-burning and disturbing in The Guardian. "Abrahamson shows that whatever the failings and weaknesses of the young, it is their elders who insist on wriggling away from blame. What Richard Did is an engrossing and intelligent drama that throbs in the mind for hours after the final credits".[11]


In February 2013, the film picked up five awards at the 10th Irish Film & Television Awards including the award for Best Film. Jack Reynor won for Actor Lead Film whilst Lenny Abrahamson and Malcolm Campbell picked up awards for Best Director and Script with Nathan Nugent winning for Editing Film.[3] In May 2013, It won the Golden Tulip (best movie) at The Istanbul International Film Festival in Turkey.[12]

Home media

The film was released on DVD in Ireland on 8 February 2013.[13]


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