Wednesday 13 December 2017

James Dempsey on What Richard Did: Portrait of a city with soul ... and swearing

WITH today’s release of the new Irish drama What Richard Did, one thing is abundantly clear – between his feature film debut with 2004’s Adam & Paul and his claustrophobic character study of the eponymous Richard, director Lenny Abrahamson knows Dublin, and it’s very much a tale of two cities.

It would be unfair to say that Abrahamson’s work is a love affair with Anna Livia Plurabelle, framing Dublin’s North- and Southsides and their erstwhile inhabitants in an idealistic golden light of joy and cherish. Abrahamson’s city is not, for instance, Woody Allen’s New York, a place where character failings are fuelled by frantic fits of narcissism or neurosis, but who rarely succumb to the burdening weights of stress or guilt.

Nor would it be fair to say that Abrahamson’s city is void of wit and flavour. The director knows how to tell a joke like a proper Dubliner, be it finding moments of black humour as two junkies look for their next fix, or capturing the easy charm and boys-own bonhomie of a bunch of Southside rugby lads. Abrahamson’s city is filled with characters so perfectly rounded that they are, undoubtedly, the people you pass by on the street every day, stealing envious glances or avoiding their eye contact.

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