Christopher Nolan's directorial debut Following is an engrossing film noir and watching it as I did a couple of days ago makes me even appreciate it more after seeing Nolan become one of the best filmmakers that are working today. The film was made for only $6,000 and it took a whole year to shoot because all of the people involved had full-time occupations. It’s incredible to think that this movie is where Nolan started and ten years later he made one of the most successful blockbusters ever in The Dark Knight. Another interesting note about this film is that it bears a striking resemblance to Nolan’s next work Memento, with the non-chronological story line and the black and white photography.

The movie follows a struggling writer, played perfectly by Jeremy Theobald, as he starts to follow strangers through the streets of
London looking for literary inspiration. However, he becomes sidetracked after he is confronted by a man he is following. The man calls himself Cobb and Cobb quickly introduces Theobald's character into the world of burglary. The interesting thing about Cobb is that he doesn't necessarily go through houses for money; he does it because he is fascinated by affecting the lives of random people. He enjoys the thought of his victims re-evaluate their lives as a result of his actions.

At first hesitant, the young writer eventually is taken with Cobb and he begins robbing regularly himself. The new friendship is blossoming perfectly until Theobald's character risks everything by starting to chase after a young blonde woman played by Lucy Russell. I will not reveal any more of the plot because I do not want to spoil the movie in this review.

The acting in this film is surprisingly good considering these actors were mostly likely paid close to nothing. Theobald, Haw, and Russell don't try to do too much with their performances. The script is so good that they don't need to do too much here, they just need to bring the script to life, and they all do a great job.

Many short (this one is only 70 minutes), low-budget films suffer not only due to lack of character development, but also because they fail to be emotionally resonant. Following succeeds on both accounts because the characters are well introduced and they all show change throughout the story. We also find ourselves caring for this young writer, even though we constantly see him going through the items of strangers and making less than chivalrous decisions. We sense he isn't a criminal, he's just a broken man looking for guidance. When he meets Cobb and they rob their first house together, it's as if Theobald's character receives an oxygen boost, a new sense of life. But that doesn't mean he is a bad person; if anything, it proves just how desperate he is to have a path in life.

I would recommend any Nolan fan to check this film out if they haven't already. There is something that is really intriguing in watching the film now after Nolan has become a major success. People might forget how great of a storyteller he is after some of his recent big-budget productions, but in this film, his ability to weave a fascinating story is in full display.


thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I agree with a lot of that review but, I've got to say, not on the acting.

I think the performances (from Haw and Theobold in particular) are really stunted and amateurish and, on a number of occasions, threaten to pull the film down, particularly when key emotional or extended dialogue is involved. I always find it interested to see what actors have gone on to do after appearing in something like this; Haw never worked again and Theobold has only had two jobs since 1998 (one of them a none speaking part in Batman Begins).

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