3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Following (DVD)
Christopher Nolan is now one of the biggest filmmakers on the planet, but his first studio feature was a modest remake of the Norwegian film Insomnia. In any other filmmaker's hands this project could have easily turned into a cliched cop drama, but Nolan made it into an intense character study that landed him the job of rebooting Batman. Out of seven feature films in his career, Nolan has five that appear in IMDb's Top 250 as voted on by average viewers who visit the site. Of his seven feature-length films, Nolan's auspicious debut, Following, is his most overlooked.
Filmed over the course of a year due to cast and crew working other full-time jobs and funded on Nolan's own dime for a mere $6,000, Following is about a writer (a young man who remains nameless) that follows strangers around to conduct research for his writing but also to cure his feelings of loneliness. Although the writer has established strict rules for following people, he finds himself thrust into a world of crime when he breaks those rules by following a man named Cobb (a name that will appear in a future Nolan movie).
Throughout Following you'll find motifs that appear throughout Nolan's future films. One of the first things you'll notice is the non-linear plot line that pops up again in movies like Batman Begins, The Prestige, and Inception. Here the pieces might not seem to fit together as well as they do in Nolan's future films, but they add to the mystery of figuring out exactly what's going on throughout the movie. As you watch this film you're able to piece things together, but at first the effect of this technique can seem a little more jarring than in the films made after Nolan perfected his craft.
The central themes apparent throughout Nolan's work, along with his unique brand of story telling, are also present in Following. The story of a man following strangers works brilliantly as a means of exploring the kind of moral ambiguity that leads down dark paths and eventually spirals out of control; the kind of ambiguity that Nolan would go on to explore in films like The Dark Knight and The Prestige. Nolan stages Following as a neo-noir film, noir being a difficult style of filmmaking that he appears to be more than adept at handling.
If you're a fan of Christopher Nolan's brand of filmmaking I suggest you give this a try. Unfortunately when I say that it's overlooked I mean that the DVD is currently out of print, although you can still buy used copies on Amazon. However, if you have Netflix feel free to add it to your queue or check it out on Instant. Much like Kevin Smith's Clerks or Darren Aronofsky's Pi this film is very gritty, but the style is still Nolan's own. Of course, if you're like me you're more about substance than style. Check it out and let us know what you think!