Monday, December 24, 2012

31 Performances Ripe for Rediscovery (8) Natasha Richardson in PATTY HEARST (1988)

A still of Natasha Richardson from my original VHS copy of Patty Hearst.

Very few performances had the kind of profound effect on me as a teenager, in the eighties, as Natasha Richardson's in Paul Schrader's Patty Hearst.  I was sixteen when this remarkable performance first came into my life, in the late eighties, and I find Richardson's work as this strange icon just as damaging and haunting as ever.  It's one of those great performances that seems to become even more and more richer with each passing year as our multiplexes and local movie houses show less and less films as searing and thoughtful as Patty Hearst.

Trying to imagine Patty Hearst without Natasha Richardson is impossible. The Twenty-four year old British born Richardson might have seemed an odd choice but she slipped effortlessly into the role and delivers a subtle and terrifying performance that channels the real Hearst in every way imaginable. Mostly known in that period as just one of Vanessa Redgrave’s daughters, Richardson is simply astonishing as Hearst and her work stands with any of her gifted mother's greatest performances.

Paul Schrader was so impressed by Natasha Richardson's work in Patty Hearst that he gave the great young actress another lead in his The Comfort of Strangers.  Natasha would go onto to become one of how most interesting and valuable actors up until her tragic passing in 2009...her work as Patty Hearst remains her most the most brilliant, necessary and vital performances in all of modern cinema.

-Jeremy Richey, 2012-

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