Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Following Always Leaves You One Step Behind


After plowing through entire seasons of Community and The Boondocks, and indulging in films such as Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, I thought it was time to start using Netflix Canada the way I initially intended to when I signed up a month ago. This mainly meant catching up on films that I have wanted to see but have not for one reason or another.

One of those films was Christopher Nolan’s debut film, Following. The noir-style film centres around a young writer, Bill (Jeremy Theobald), who follows people on the street trying to imagine what their lives are like. One day the tables are turned on the writer when one of his subjects, Cobb (Alex Haw), confronts him about his following habit. Cobb, a local burglar, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Bill and decides to teach him the tricks of the burglary trade. Bill immediately becomes infatuated with the mysterious blond (Lucy Russell) whose London apartment they burglarize. Soon Bill finds himself in way over his head as his growing relationship with the secretive blond has him risking his life for a woman he hardly knows.

Christopher Nolan is a director who has made a career of mixing strong storytelling with big budget sensibilities. While his debut film, Following, may not have the large scale of his later works, its intelligence more than makes up for its lack of budget. The film plays out in non-chronological order which allows Nolan to play with the audiences assumptions of what is going on.

One of the subtle aspects of the film that works so well is how all the little details fall into place. There is nothing in this film that does not carry some significance. Even small moments, such as when Bill casually looks inside a piano bench, reveal themselves to be rather important. Following is all about embracing these subtle moments instead of grander thrills that are often found in higher profile productions.

Some will find the pacing of the film extremely slow, but the payoff is well worth the build-up. Following is a film that slowly draws the viewer in and provides more than enough intrigue to maintain their attention. Following is not only a strong directorial debut, but it rivals some of Nolan’s more well known films.


  1. Didn't you love MegaShark vs Giant Octopus?! Great review.

  2. @Jess - I do indeed have a fond spot for MegaShark vs. Giant Octopus. It was a blast to watch. I have been advised by some other bloggers to also see Sharktopus and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon.

    While I look forward to seeing those films, I also would like to catch up on some of the more "highbrow" films that Netflix Canada has to offer as well.

  3. Enjoyed this a lot. In retrospect, it was obvious that Nolan was going to be a respected filmmaker. The only slight flaw I thought was the acting, which is adequate but could have been better.

  4. @Castor - yep the acting could have been better overall. I thought Alex Haw was the standout as Cobb though.

  5. I've got this in my Netflix Instant Queue - I can't wait to check it out!

  6. I don't think I'm a big enough Nolan fan to appreciate this one.
    I may check it out some day, if I want to see his complete filmography or something but at the moment I'm not interested much.

    Very nice review though!

  7. @Rachel - looking forward to reading your review of the film.

    @Jack - I think the film is worth a look. It is more akin to films like The Grifters and The Usual Suspects than it is Inception or the Batman films.

  8. this early nolan work is something i desperately want to see but it is at 109 on the complete history of film noir that i'm working on so it's going to be quite some time before i get to see it. nice review though.

  9. @blah blah Toby - If you are tackling the complete history of noir, then I can see how Following would be low on your list. Too many classics to see before Following can even be brought up in a sentence.


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