The trilogy began with just the addition of the sequel, Hartley wanted to work with Parker Posey again after the first film and while bouncing off a bunch of scripts they just decided to make a film based on her character. “I knew though, I had to make it a trilogy though once I made the sequel,” said Hartley and he did just that.
Ned Rifle, follows Ned, the son of Henry and Fay, as he finishes up his years in witness protection. He lives with a reverend and family who shaped him. He is a man of faith but still has his flaws that even religion cannot help especially the fact that he just can’t forgive his father for ruining his mother’s life. He only has one goal in life and that is to kill Henry. He visits his mother, Fay (played by Posey) and tells her of his mission and begins his quest.
“He’s a righteous, judgmental and domineering Christian until he meets Susan,” says Hal on Ned’s character.
Ned reunites with his uncle Simon (played by James Urbaniak) in New York City. He figures he may know where Henry is. While there, he meets Susan (played by Aubrey Plaza) a seemingly obsessed fan of Simon’s poetry. Susan and Ned connect, but Susan has ulterior motives. Together they continue the search to find Henry and kill him, though Susan doesn’t know that Ned’s plan to off his dad.
It was Plaza’s first time in a Hal Hartley film and she was excited to say the least. “It was intimidating to be in a world that was already established but everyone took me under their wing and it was nice,” says Plaza. She had been a fan of Hartley’s since watching his films in film school. “I love all things about his style and the way his brain works,” continued Plaza.
Ned Rifle is the definition of a dark comedy with witty and entertaining dialogue filling the actual insane and sometimes catastrophic scenes. Hartley’s characters seem to speak a language that isn’t normal in our day to day lives, it’s more literature-like, it’s original and never boring, always keeping the audience entertained. Having never seen the prior films, I wish I did but Ned Rifle is also a great stand alone film. There’s enough exposition so even the new viewer is in the know.
Plaza holds her own as the newest addition to the Hartley characters. Her character is “brilliant but fucked up” as stated in the movie, and although she is insane, she is the character that brings the audience the most joy. Plaza also had a great time playing her, “Playing a crazy person is the easiest thing I can think of to do because I’m crazy,” joked Plaza.
Overall, the film is a little bit of everything — funny, sad, and definitely has some moments that’ll make you jump in your seat.
Ned Rifle is available on will released theatrically and on Vimeo On Demand tomorrow, April 1, 2015. Check it out here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/nedrifle.