Movie Review: Following (1998)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Drama

An aspiring writer named Bill (Jeremy Theobald) gets the idea to start following total strangers to make his characters more well-rounded.  At first, Bill’s plan was to follow people at random, not get a detailed view of their lives and move on to the next stranger.  He breaks this rule almost immediately and  gets involved with a burglar named Cobb (Alex Haw) and a mysterious blonde. (Lucy Russell)  Not only does Bill follow Cobb around, he actually helps Cobb burgle houses.  One of the houses Cobb burgles with Bill’s help is the house of the mysterious blonde that Bill becomes romantically involved with.  The blonde meanwhile is involved with a gangster type, who Bill calls the Bald Guy  (Dick Bradsell) So Bill is walking a very dangerous line between taking lessons from a small time robber to dating a bigtime mobster’s girlfriend, but what is Cobb’s angle here?  Does he really need an assistant to be a small time burglar?  Why is the blonde involved  with the bald guy and Bill?  Does Bill get out of the frying pan fire situation he’s in. or are there more surprises awaiting him?

This is a fairly good movie. The viewer has to take into account that this is Chris Nolan’s first movie, so one shouldn’t expect Memento, or The Dark Knight or Inception, although there are definitely elements of all three movies in this one.  Some of the movie is shot out of order, similar to Memento, vague character motivations, a hallmark of all of Nolan’s films, and the name of the robber, Cobb, is the name of the DeCaprio character in “Inception.”  Sadly, there isn’t enough in this movie to hold the viewer’s interest.  The characters are thinly drawn, not nearly fleshed out enough.  Why do they do what they do?  Why does Bill feel the need to follow people?  Why does a middle class guy like Cobb feel the need to rob people?  There is not enough backstory  to explain why the characters do what they do.  There is a twist in this movie, which is not that shocking, and the denouement is not that surprising, once the twist is executed.  Furthermore, the movie is just too short overall, it clocks in at a little over 70 minutes, which is not long by any standard.  Call this movie a precursor of great things to come.  The acting isn’t that great, the standout is Alex Haw, with his cool, dispassionate portrayal of a small-time hood, the other actors are forgettable.  Watch this to see a young director and writer learning his craft, and then watch Memento, the Dark Knight, and Inception to see how fully Nolan has realized his dream.

Nolan’s films following Following were much better.



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