Following Made in: UK Language: English Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, Dick Bradsell, John Nolan Year: 1998
Synopsis: Bill (Jeremy Theobald) is a lonely, unemployed, young man who aspires to be a creative writer. For inspiration, he walks around the crowded streets of London.
Declaring himself a harmless voyeur, he tails random people for long periods of time, discovering small details about their lives from a safe distance. He acknowledges that it's a weird, potentially creepy habit, but claims to keep his behavior in check.
One afternoon, Bill tracks a well-dressed man named Cobb (Alex Haw), to a diner. Cobb confronts Bill, and explains that he's aware that Bill has been following him. To Bill's surprise, he learns that Cobb is a serial burglar. Cobb invites him to follow along as he breaks into various apartments in the city.
The irreverent Cobb turns out to be different than the average burglar. He's more interested in learning about the nature of people's lives, and views stealing stuff only as secondary. Fascinated, Bill becomes Cobb's new protégé and learns the latter's MO.
Soon after, Bill becomes involved with a young blonde woman (Lucy Russell), who's trapped in a relationship with a seedy, possessive club owner (Dick Bradsell). All is not as it seems with Bill's new acquaintances as he is drawn deeper into their world of deception, blackmail, and violence.
The Good: Following is a very well-made and cleverly structured film-noir thriller. Christopher Nolan showcases a nonlinear editing style that later went on to define the widely acclaimed Memento.
Psychologically interesting and populated with intriguing characters, the "out-of-sequence" storytelling adds a greater sense of suspense and anticipation as the film reaches its climax.
The cast is solid, and the film is shot in a near documentary fashion with a lot of hand-held camera work. This is clearly an indie film, but one that serves as a great example of effective filmmaking on a shoestring budget. The whole production only cost a little more that $6,000.
The Bad: Not much to complain about at all, really. Some of the hand-held shots in the beginning were a little dizzying, but didn't subtract much from the viewing experience. Also, at times it was hard to hear some lines of dialogue.
Who would like this film: Following is for you if you're into indie/art movies, film noir, a Christopher Nolan fan, or if you're possibly a voyeur. Although it's one of Nolan's early works, it bears some of his visual trademarks (and even contains a little Batman imagery).
The nonlinear style is very clever, but you have to be paying close attention otherwise you'll lose track of everything that's going on. This is a well-paced, exciting dark thriller which proves that great films come from great stories - not big budgets.