Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Natasha Richardson

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson

After almost two days of distressing news regarding a head injury it was announced today that Natasha Richardson is dead. I find myself quite saddened for many reasons. She was always a favorite of mine, performing in such personally memorable films as Ken Russell's Gothic (1986), Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers (1990), and Volker Schlöndorff's The Handmaid's Tale (1990). Her delicate beauty masked a fierce performer that in my opinion was every bit as powerful as her mother, Vanessa Redgrave. And sometimes a little upturn of the corner of her mouth, smiling while she spoke evoked the memory of her swan-like mother in her youth, as the gorgeous Guinevere in Camelot (1967). Richardson inherited a legacy of talent from not only the distinguished Redgrave family but from her father, the late director, Tony Richardson (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner). And the husband she leaves behind is famous in his own right, actor Liam Neeson whom she met in Nell (1994). Her early career showed great promise. She was usually the central character of her films, sometimes playing real-life figures such as author Mary Shelley in Gothic, and the eponymous Patty Hearst (1988). But as is often the case for actresses, mainstream parts dried up as she got older, and she was relegated to supporting performances in comedies like The Parent Trap (1998) and Maid in Manhattan (2002), while still taking on the lead in smaller arthouse fare. Given time, and her talent, I believe a strong second stage to her career would have been inevitable. Richardson was 45. Recommended Films - Gothic, Patty Hearst, The Handmaid's Tale,The Comfort of Strangers


Dean Treadway said...

You said it all, except that Richardson really showed her mettle on the Broadway stage, where she won a Tony in 1993 in the title role for Eugene O'Neill's ANNA CHRISTIE (this is where she met her husband Liam Neeson, who was also nominated for a Tony that year). I really felt that we'd be seeing a lot more of Ms. Richardson; she seemed to carry so much of her mother's intensity. Her death is an incredible blow to us all, and a reminder of life's fragility. Truly, my heart goes out to her entire family.

Dean Treadway said...

Sorry. My mistake: Ms. Richardson won her Tony in 1998, for best actress in a musical, playing Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” Still, this shows what the stage allowed her to do; I always felt as though cinema had not used her gifts properly, despite her showings in THE HANDMAID'S TALE and PATTY HEARST (though those remain her most notable screen performances, IMO).