FIRST LOVE, LAST RITES (1997) [Feature]

USA (MIFF 1998 , International Panorama)
Director: Jesse Peretz

In a small fishing village in the steamy bayou country Joey and Sissel explore their first real relationship in the confines of a single room and the seemingly never ending Louisiana summer. They make love, exchange pillow talk, stories and romantic ideals and search for one another's identity. The visually sumptuous scenery provides the perfect canvas upon which to paint this universal story with refreshing candour and style.

Charged with the attitudes and sensibilities of contemporary youth culture, First Love, Last Rites is richly layered with metaphors as well as genuinely human characters. The film evokes a mood which provides different insights from the drama and conflicts bounded by the simple story. Sissel is alienated from her divorced parents but feels a need for Joey to meet her father, Henry. A talkative Vietnam vet with a fascination for Oriental culture, Henry fires a list of awkward questions at Joey but welcomes his company on eel fishing trips. When the initial flush of affection wanes, anxieties and insecurities, together with the daily round of boredom, frustration, work and indifference, begin to intrude on the young lovers' idyllic, though sheltered, existence.

"The story seemed to reflect my own past and to describe the magnitude of one's first relationship. It describes how the initial thrill of freedom, lust and innocence gives way to confusion, fear, non-communication and eventually disillusionment. At the end of the film there is hope that perhaps they will be able to begin a new course, less precious and more real." - Jesse Peretz

Jesse Peretz was born in Boston in 1969. He enjoyed a successful music career as a member of internationally acclaimed pop group The Lemonheads before studying in NYU Film School and turning his hand to music video and shorts which include: Urine Trouble (1989), Radio Dreamers (1990), Toast (1991) and Six Hours From Cleveland (1992, screend at MIFF 1993). First Love, Last Rites is Peretz' first feature.

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