February 12, 2006|If people know Natasha Richardson at all it seems it's as the titular gun-toting, Stockholm-struck heiress in Paul Schrader's Patty Hearst--a film that came closer to making her a star than the one that was supposed to two years later, The Handmaid's Tale. I myself was vaguely aware that she hailed from a long and storied English industry family, what with her father being director Tony Richardson and mother and aunt being acclaimed actresses Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave, respectively; and I knew that she'd married Liam Neeson somewhere along the line, with whom she has two children. But it wasn't until very recently that I started becoming aware of Ms. Richardson more as an actress than as something like a faint suggestion of foreign royalty. The act of freeing herself from her past began with a move from the UK to Manhattan, a few celebrated turns on the Great White Way (most notably her Tony-winning stint as Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes's revival of Cabaret), and now a couple of films (Asylum and The White Countess) that find Richardson's screen work maturing along with her actualization. Yeah, I'm smitten.