Saturday, 15 February 2014

Leigh's Ladies : Katrin Cartlidge

Katrin Cartlidge 1961 -2002

Number of filmed Leigh projects: 3

It's a great sadness that Cartlidge's flame burned so bright yet for such a short time. Starting out on Channel 4's socially relevant soap opera Brookside in 1982 she developed a distinctive film career working specifically in much applauded projects in the art house and indie genre - not just with Leigh but with auteurs like Lars von Trier too - before passing away at the age of just 41 from complications with pneumonia and septicaemia.

Her arresting screen presence meant she was a force to be reckoned with even in small roles. Her North London accent, expressive mouth and strikingly sharp witchy profile was a boon for Leigh's real but somewhat heightened characters and he used her talents in Naked as Sophie the rather disenfranchised hapless goth, as a Parisian brothel madam in Topsy Turvy and most effectively of all in 1997's Career Girls, which saw her share the joint lead role with Lynda Steadman, playing two women, former student flatmates, at 20 and 30 respectively. It was a joyous layered and nuanced performance in what is a delightfully low key film with much to say on friendship; specifically among females.

Following her death Leigh helped set up the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation and serves as a board trustee, granting a bursary to new creative talent in film each year in Karin's name.

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