Following (1998) is a neo noir psychological mystery directed/written by Christopher Nolan, and is his first ever feature film. This stars Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw and Lucy Russell.
Synopsis: A young writer (Jeremy Theobald) likes to follow people in order to gain material for his writing. The writer has a set of rules he adheres to including never following the same person twice. One day, he follows a smartly dressed man named Cobb (Alex Haw) into a café and sits nearby. Cobb approaches and asks why he is following him. It is revealed that Cobb is a burglar. Cobb invites the writer to accompany him on his burglaries, and from then on the writer becomes his apprentice.
After breaking into a woman’s flat (Lucy Russell), the writer goes against his own rules and begins to pursue a relationship with her. However, nothing is as it seems and this has some life altering consequences for the writer.
Having seen all of Nolan’s previous films, I was curious to check out his debut. I wanted to see how he made a film on such a low budget – 6000 US dollars. I was definitely not disappointed by this film. Due to this being in the style of neo noir, this pertains with many of the sensibilities of this style. Nothing is as it seems on the surface, and the choice to shoot this in black and white clearly links with the style of noir.
The writing is good, and I was impressed by Nolan’s dialogue. I saw some nice parallels with his next film, Memento (2000), which I recommend watching too. This story jumps between different time frames, but is still fairly easy to follow.
Theobald is convincing as the protagonist despite only being credited in a short film before this. Haw is equally convincing as Cobb, and plays the charismatic burglar with ease. As a result, the viewer can easily see why the writer is taken with Cobb’s lifestyle.
For aspiring filmmakers, this is definitely an inspiring film to watch. This was filmed over the course of a year during weekends as all of the cast and crew had full time jobs. This shows good films can still be made on such a limited budget, and I recommend watching this.
By Robert Spence