With his background in successful music videos and lucrative commercials, Peretz next looked to tackle features and was intrigued by an early short story by British author Ian McEwan. He adapted the story along with screenwriter David Ryan (another ex-Lemonhead) into the script for "First Love, Last Rites" (1998), a slow paced, sexually charged drama set in the Louisiana bayou. Terrified at the prospect of directing actors, something he had very little experience in as a music video director, Peretz took some time to work in theater, directing several plays to get his footing. Once confident, he helmed his first feature which examined the development and fallout of an intense teenage love affair, with subplots involving familial relations, and dream-like sequences with rats and eels. Sharply contrasted with his recently successful quick-moving, stylized music videos, the film hearkened back to his earlier video work, like the moody "It's a Shame About Ray" (1992). The first single off the Lemonheads album of the same name, this dark, melancholy and vague video featured Johnny Depp as a man grappling with an unarticulated dilemma. Similarly ambiguous and understated, "First Love, Last Rites" starred burgeoning young actors Giovanni Ribisi and Natasha Gregson Wagner as the emotional but non-communicative couple Joey and Sissel. In this sometimes uneven film, Peretz sought to convey the magic of first love and the repercussions resulting from mistaking passion for communication. The filmmaker brought the movie's soundtrack to the forefront of the film, stressing the importance of music in his work. As a reaction to the radio friendly alternative hit laden soundtracks that were the norm, Peretz sought to create an entirely original piece for the film, using songs as a plot device, not as randomly occurring background noise. In "First Love, Last Rites," music plays when Sissel puts on records, and Sissel puts on records frequently to drown out Joey. A transcendent and subtle film, "First Love, Last Rites" was an auspicious debut, largely acclaimed by critics and successful in establishing Peretz as more than just a video director.