Thursday, March 19, 2009

This Winter

In remembrance of
Tony Award-winning
film and theater ac-
tress Natasha Rich-
ardson (Patty Hearst,
Cabaret), who died yesterday at the age of 45, here's a link to my blog post about David Mackenzie's Asylum, which features what may
be her best, most underrated work.

After watching the movie, I felt sad...and not just because
it's a tragedy. Why aren't more people seeing and talking ab-
out it, I wondered. It isn't perfect—few pictures are—but that's beside the point. Some of the most fascinating films are marred
by flaws of some sort, especially when they attempt to grapple with the inherent messiness of human desires, frustrations, and fantasies, and Richardson dives right into the muck. Hate this pessimistic movie if you must, but don't hate the player.

So, I started a blog, and posted a rant (and it's definitely a rant, rather than a proper review), but if I encouraged even one per-
son to take a chance on Asylum, I'll feel like a made a differ-
ence, no matter how small. Richardson's perfectly-pitched performance should've nudged her towards the top-tier of internationally-recognized actresses. It didn't happen, and
I submit that her work afterwards wasn't as risky or as vis-
ible. With time, that would've changed, but time ran out.

I also mention Richardson, briefly, in a review of the BBC version of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, in which she co-stars with Dame Maggie Smith—and more than holds her own.

Natasha Richardson was the daughter of Oscar-winning ac-
tress Vanessa Redgrave (Julia) and Oscar-winning director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones), the granddaughter of actress Dame Rachel Kempson and actor Sir Michael Redgrave, the sister of actresses Jemma and Joely Richardson, the niece of actress Lynn Redgrave and actor Corin Redgrave, and the wife of actor
Liam Neeson, with whom she had two sons, Michael and Dav-
id. That's one hell of a lineage, and she did her people proud.

For more tributes, go here.

Endnote: Yes, I relish adding the prefixes Sir, Dame, and "Os-
car-winning" to the names of British entertainment figures, and the Richardson-Redgrave clan provides ample opportunity to do so. Natasha also acted opposite family members throughout her too-short lifetime, notably James Ivory's The White Countess (Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave) and Lajos Koltai's Evening (Vanes-
sa Redgrave). Image from The Villager. Click the link for an in-
sightful interview with Richardson about her performance
in another Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

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