director Jesse Peretz
Back in 1998 or 1999, just before I started writing this diary of films, I stumbled upon Natasha Gregson Wagner in Another Day in Paradise (1998), and I was smitten. The daughter of Natalie Wood, she definitely bears resemblance to her famous movie star mother, but for me, personally, I was just “like WOW.” I tracked down a few other films she had been in. She’d gotten good reviews for Two Girls and a Guy (1997) but I found I preferred some of the more trashy movies she made like Modern Vampires (1998) and later Vampires: Los Muertos (2002). These were starring roles, more screen time. She has had smaller roles in bigger movies like Lost Highway (1997) and High Fidelity (2000), but by the time I was getting into her, she moved into more television and hasn’t made movies as much.
She was the first actress that I uniquely singled out when I began this blog, though I’ve have several actresses and a few actors that I like enough to see just about anything they are in. But I’ve been stymied on a couple of her films. In particular, this one, First Love, Last Rights.
This indie movie from the heyday of the American Indie movie period in the 1990’s has fallen somehow through the distribution cracks into uber-obscurity. Do you see the tiny image I found of the movie poster? You can’t really find a larger one. There is no Wikipedia page for this film. Netflix doesn’t even have an entry for it in its database.
It’s based on a short story by Ian McEwan and stars Wagner and Giovanni Ribisi as a pair of libidinous lovers somewhere down in Louisiana. He’s a young guy from the north. She’s a local gal with a strange, wily, weirdo father who tries to convince Ribisi to invest in eel traps and makes some intimidation conversation about him sleeping with his daughter. Their relationship goes from hot to cold as they live their lives on the fringe of the world.
Both Ribisi and Wagner are very good in their roles. And you know, it’s actually a pretty good movie. It’s typical of the indie films from that period in being a tale of quirky people yet relatively naturalistic. A story of a love affair, its joys and its tedium. And then there is the rat in the wall. Or is there?
I was very surprised to find this on Hulu, pleased and surprised.