By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
After such a long time being entertained by Shia LaBoeuf’s antics, as always in the movie world, we must ask, who’s going to be the next Shia LaBoeuf? What makes a Shia LaBoeuf? What motivates him to LaBeouf the world in the unique way he does? It was Transformers, wasn’t it?
Gaze upon the ravager of souls, the death knell of ambition
Jack Reynor. That’s your answer. The young Irish hunk who will play the bad boy in the new Transformers trilogy. Oh, it’s a trilogy all right. Anyway, before the inevitable plagiarism, bar fights, and kind of sad art installations, I wanted to see Jack Reynor in the wild. What Richard Did is where that’s possible.
The movie is about a charismatic young rugby player, a golden boy, who, in a based on true events plot, accidentally kills another young man in a brief moment of rage. The repercussion ripple out from there.
For all the shit this poor kid’s set himself up to take, Jack Reynor demonstrates here that he has plenty of acting skills. This film is a character study, through and through, and only works because he carries it on his shoulders, establishing a likable, rather normal young man faced with many of the challenges of youth that we all face, before being jerked into a moral quandary that nobody could simplify down to an easy answer. Is he the victim of circumstance? An entitled prick reaping his inevitable reward? It’s hard to say, and that’s exactly what this film’s going for (and a credit to his performance). It also doesn’t hurt that he has the natural magnetism of a hunky Chris Pratt.
Or… I guess just Chris Pratt now.
Lenny Abrahamson, director of recent Michael Fassbender-starring Sundance hit Frank, shows what all his hype is about here, crafting a disquieting, incredibly natural and realistic-feeling film with a smattering of artsy touches, like his penchant for fading audio in and out before a scene is complete, that elevate the material.
The final raise of the glass must go to the film’s approach to violence. There’s nothing glorified or Hollywood about it. It’s over before anyone can even think about what’s happening, and something that 1,000 Stallones, Van Dammes, and Schwarzeneggers have walked away from, a kick to the head, proves fatal. It’s shocking, and powerful, purely because of how innocuous it is.
The plot is a slow-burner all right, a bit too slow. You shouldn’t be glancing at your watch too often in an 83 minute movie, but such is the case here.
While Richard’s, and the movie’s, indecision is true to life, and more or less the point, when the end rolls around and he still is (arguably) on the fence, it’s disappointing. The focus of the film is too narrow to sustain it, and it feels a bit undercooked in the end as a result.
What Richard Did is an excellent actor’s showcase for rising star Jack Reynor, and a chilling story of moral ambiguity.
Take a Drink: when a character does (that’ll keep ya busy)
Take a Drink: for parties
Take a Drink: whenever dread creeps in
Do a Shot: every time Richard changes his mind about coming clean