Following (1998) movie poster

(1998) dir. Christopher Nolan
viewed: 04/08/02

Christopher Nolan (director of the oft-heralded Memento) made his feature debut with this film, a low-budget, B/W neo-noir film shot in London. Like Memento, the film’s narrative is non-linear, playing out in flashbacks that are intentionally disordered. The effect of this disjunctured storytelling evokes an added mystery to what could be a fairly straight-forward noir tale. As in Memento, it works, and works fairly well.

Amateurish yet elegant in its use of simple settings and natural light, the cinematography and location shooting, on London rooftops, streets, flats, and bars has a great low-budget quality. The acting, too, has an amateur feel, amateur but not dire.

A significant exception is Alex Haw who plays Cobb, the charismatic thief whom the protagonist follows into the dark world of crime. Haw has a strong Rupert Everett-like charm, and I think the strength of his character allows the rest of the film to work. In my opinion anyway.

It’s a good film. Not as good as Memento, but good in many of the same ways.

That said, it is nowhere as polished, and some of the scenes that explicate the narrative are dialogue-heavy, two characters discussing what is happening, in order for the viewer to catch up. Rather clumsy.

Whereas Nolan created this strange amnesia for his protagonist in Memento, which operated both as a significant plot point as well as the major narrative device, he offers no such explicit explanation for the disordered narrative for Following. The bulk of the film is told in flashbacks (without narrating voice-over). One can read the tale as though it is told through its protagonist’s perspective, a subjective, stream-of-consciousness reassembling of events.

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