Over a decade ago, I broke into a home. This was no difficult task, as the woman who resided there never locked her door. While there, I took something back that this woman's son had stolen from me, left something else that he deserved and was very careful to leave no other trace of my activities. Years later, I still remember that curious thrill: the novelty of my planned procedure, an adrenaline rush that was hardly unpleasant and the satisfaction of a task capably completed.
Christopher Nolan's first feature film evokes all of the feelings triggered by the entire experience of a successful burglary: excitement, anxiety, and a touch of fear. However, the act of a burglary is only a means to an end for both the filmmaker and his characters. Even the themes explored here (voyeurism, intrusion) seem incidental, almost peripheral to the story's ultimate objective. An unemployed writer who shadows people to ease his boredom (Jeremy Theobald) is taken in by a professional thief (Alex Haw) who teaches him the methods of his trade. Much of what's initially presented to both the protagonist and the audience is illusory; if the phrase "nothing is as it seems" is as cliché to you as it is to me, rest assured that an extensive synopsis pertaining to this film's plot in the context of a simple review would spoil the experience that it leads the viewer through.
Like most of Nolan's movies, Following is densely plotted and dedicatedly non-linear, featuring obsessive, selfish characters whose motives seem entirely apparent, both before and after they're actually revealed. Theobald and Lucy Russell are entirely convincing, but Haw is the real star of the movie: his forceful, prickish performance dominates every scene in which he's featured. I don't know why an actor with such enormous screen presence hasn't any other roles to his credit, but it seems a shame; even if he were typecast in this sort of role, Mr. Haw might well be a gifted character actor.
This is actually much better than Memento: the plot isn't so uniformly organized, the characters are more complex and the story's surprises are more clever and subtly revealed. As with Nolan's other films, a second viewing allows one to notice more of the story's nuances, but isn't necessary for a basic comprehension of its plot.
Following is the one of the cleverest, smartest, toughest psychological thrillers since...well...since Memento. Bill (Jeremy Theobald) is an unsuccessful wannabe writer. "I've been on my own for a while," he tells an older man at the beginning of the movie, "and getting kind of lonely...and bored...nothing to do all day. And that's when I started shadowing." Bill will pick out a person and spend the day secretly following them around, seeing … more