An older man listens to Bill's story about being a callow writer who likes to follow strangers around London, observing them. One day, a glib and self-confident man whom Bill has been following confronts him. He's Cobb, a burglar who takes Bill under his wing and shows him how to break and enter. They burgle a woman's flat; Bill gets intrigued with her (photographs are everywhere in her flat). He follows her and chats her up at a bar owned by her ex-boyfriend, a nasty piece of work who killed someone in her living room with a hammer. Soon Bill is volunteering to do her a favor, which involves a break-in. What does the older man know that Bill doesn't?Written by
In one shot, when Cobb puts the gloves in the young man's mouth it is half sticking out but in the next scene it is almost completely in the young man's mouth. See more »
The following is my explanation. Well, more of an account of what happened. I'd been on my own for a while and getting kind of lonely... and bored... nothing to do all day. And that's when I started shadowing.
Shadowing - Following. I started to follow people
Anyone at first. Um,
you know, that was the whole point - somebody at random, someone who didn't know who I was.
And then nothing.
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The Criterion Collection DVD features an additional "Chronological Edit" of the film, which places the scenes in linear order. See more »
After watching Memento one might well wonder how Christopher Nolan pulled off something that audacious, that brilliant, in what was his major directorial debut. Watch Following, the no-budget thriller which was Nolan's actual directorial debut, and you begin to understand. With no money, with an amateur cast and doing pretty much everything (writing, shooting, directing) himself Nolan created a little masterpiece. Whatever "it" is that enables someone to make great movies Nolan clearly has it. And had it right from the beginning.
Fans of Memento will see a lot of similarities, hints of what was to come, in Following. The most obvious parallel is the nonlinear time structure as the story here unfolds completely out of order. Whereas the story in Memento proceeded more or less in a straight line which just happened to be moving backwards here there is no line at all. Scenes are placed in a seemingly random order. We're all over the place. At the end, in the beginning, somewhere in the middle, back to the end again...it really could have been a jumbled mess. But Nolan gives us a little assistance in orienting ourselves with the shifting appearance of his main character. He has three distinct looks to him and once you figure that out you can figure out where you are in the story. But there are still enough twists and turns to make your head spin, to keep you guessing right up to the end.
The less said about the plot the better. Best to let you try to piece the puzzle together for yourself. Much like Memento you really have to see it all the way through to fully appreciate the true genius of it, to understand how any missteps from Nolan along the way could have unraveled his whole story. When the movie concludes you can't help but be amazed that Nolan could pull this off essentially by himself. At least with Memento he had a little help. Here it's just Nolan and his small cast. There are really only three roles of any significance in the film, maybe four if you're being generous. But this little troupe and their first-time director combined to create something really special. The acting may at times seem a bit amateurish but that has to be expected from performers who are certainly not acting pros. And any little quibbles with the performances do not detract at all from the overall movie-watching experience. The actors do more than well enough to get by, well enough in fact that you're surprised there were not bigger acting roles for them somewhere down the line if they wanted them. That the performers have a great story to work with certainly helped their cause.
Things do get a little convoluted in the end as Nolan's story takes its final turns. You worry that things may be getting away from him a little bit. But he manages to ultimately pull it all together. You may have to really think about it after things are through but it all makes sense when you run it back in your mind. And it's nice every now and again to have a movie that actually requires you to think isn't it? Christopher Nolan seems to specialize in movies like that. He just makes great movies. Here he did it with no money, all on his own, never having made a movie before. It takes a special talent to pull that off. And among his many talents Nolan also apparently possesses the ability to see into his own future. When you watch Following note the Batman logo on the main character's apartment door.
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