Rambling About Following (1998)

Nutshell Ramble

A smart and taut neo-noir which is a sign of things to come from one of Hollywood’s most celebrated present day filmmakers.



Full Ramble

Following is a 1998 neo-noir film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell and John Nolan. The film follows the story of a struggling writer who follows people inconspicuously, searching for inspiration.

Following may not be Christopher Nolan’s best work but it is a sign of things to come in the future. The story is solidly crafted for a first-time filmmaker. There are three plots running parallelly on-screen with multiple intercut scenes. The issue with that being, some scenes are more engaging than the others. The camerawork and editing might prove to be a bit too jarring at times but then again it is a film made on a shoestring budget and shot over a few weekends. The concept of the film gets full marks for being clever and having a smooth way of going about revealing its twists and turns.

The performances are good and average in equal measure. Jeremy Theobald might be a known entity to a Christopher Nolan buff as he played the lead character in Nolan’s short film Doodlebug. He is quite alright at best. A clear lack of nuance in his performance is visible to any audience member. Alex Haw is clearly better and suits his role to a tee. He manages to be intelligent, diligent, charismatic and conniving all in one scene. His rules and banter are entertaining to listen to. His ultimate motivations for his actions might leave a viewer wanting more but that is what is needed to be done to close the plot. The other characters are present in the film to serve the plot’s progression and may not have much in terms of memorability.

The film’s lack of and presence of style create a kind of unique concoction. It does not look like Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs or Kevin Smith’s Clerks. It does not feel very well put together. It feels like the tone the film itself is going for. It feels and looks like the incoherent mess the film is putting its lead character through. The score might end of feeling either extremely distracting or remind one of a Nine Inch Nails song.

It is a film that has a lot going for it in terms of its plotting and concept. It is indeed fiendishly clever and tries to induce a sense of paranoia. But it falls short in creating memorable characters or scenes to make it an indelible mark on the world of film. It would not be until his next film that Nolan would come into the collective consciousness of film nerds. It would take a couple more films before he became a household name. But this is a worthy start to a magnificent career.

P.S. – It is kind of heart-warming to see that Nolan and his future wife Emma Thomas have been as Director and Producer respectively since his first short film.




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