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
When Bill goes through The Blonde's things at his place, the clock he picks from the bag shows 12:44. Moments later, he picks The Blonde's photos and sets them against the same clock, which is now showing 12:36. 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 »
In this intriguing noir thriller (looking like the Forties, but with a psychology befitting the Nineties), Director Christopher Nolan employs a number of techniques he would perfect in his internationally acclaimed Memento (2000), most notably scenes presented out of time sequence for effect, and a naive protagonist taken advantage of by others. The film opens with "Bill, the Innocent" (as I might dub him), played by Jeremy Theobald, trying to explain to someone, perhaps a social worker, perhaps even a police inspector (John Nolan), why he took up following people just for the fun of it. He doesn't just follow women, he points out. He's not a stalker, as such. He's just curious. He's an intriguing and sympathetic character, a Brit writer with a lot of time on his hands who seems something of a throwback to an earlier age with his clanking manual typewriter and the photo of a pursed-lips Marilyn Monroe on the wall of his shabby apartment. Things began to go wrong for him, he further explains, when he broke some of his "following rules" and got too close to his prey. What he doesn't know and what we don't know yet, is that his clumsy following technique has allowed him to unwittingly become the followed himself. Enter a juicy blonde (Lucy Russell) walking down some steps from her apartment. (This scene is out of sequence as far as chronological time goes, but psychologically speaking, her appearance signals his entanglement). Enter now a scheming, sophisticated psychopathic thrill-seeker named Cobb (Alex Haw) who entices Bill with his (apparent) practice of burglary just for the powerful feeling one gets from invading the sanctity of another's life. Although justification for the temporal inversions here is not as clearly established as in Memento, nonetheless the technique works well, and Nolan provides us with a clever ending that sneaks up on us and makes in a few seconds all that went before clear. Or mostly clear. You might want to rewind and view the first few minutes of the film, and then everything should be clarity. This low-budget, black and white, deliciously ironic little film (71 minutes) marked the auspicious debut of a film maker who has already made quite a name for himself, not only with the aforementioned Memento, but with Insomnia (2002). It will be interesting to see what Nolan does next.
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