Following ★★★½

Twisty tales. Isolated characters. Cool mysterious style.

This is when Christopher Nolan is at his best. Before he shook up the world of comic book movies with Batman Begins, and subsequently stuck it up his own ass with The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan was making a name for himself with films like Memento and Insomnia. Chris Nolan showed promise and when you look at his big films today, its humbling to go back and watch the films that would later come to define, or destroy him.

I wouldn't call myself a Nolan fan, but that certainly doesn't mean I hate him either. Like I said, he is a director that has shown great promise and his early films are really solid. I think he has yet to deliver his one true masterpiece, but sadly I think that day won't come anytime soon. He's got the taste for blockbusters in his system. Following was Nolan's first feature film and represents the styles that he would later embrace and is a good place to look when you bore of his 3 hour melodramatic blockbusters. Following isn't a perfect film at all. In fact, its very barebones and the twisty narrative becomes unnecessarily complicated. Its not difficult. The story is simple but Nolan twists it up and often if you blink you will miss an important detail. But once Following locks into place, it becomes an engrossing little film that is an interesting addition to the neo-noir genre and its a feature that is appealing when you take into account the developing talent behind the camera. Its got the classic Nolan narrative that twists along all the while accelerating at a brisk pace. The action here is centered in Nolan's home country, England, and tells the story of a lonely Londonite that takes to following people as a hobby. He stresses that its now about sex, or violence but instead is something much more complicated. He is simply trying to be found. Life put him on this path and he has resorted to attaching himself to others as a new lifestyle. This puts him on course to meet a criminal who has also turned to a new hobby.

These two men are products of a dull and desensitized black and white society that lacks any moral values. They embark on a dark journey filled with backstabs, flashbacks, twists, turns, deaths, and moments of genuine tension. Its a good exercise in modern noir and its entertaining moments just barely outweigh the unfortunate flaws. Following is a film that I could've easily loved, but its simple flaws hold it back from being anything more than an admirable and entertaining first feature from a soon to be big director. Nolan's filming style is as plain as ever but its effective at capturing everything important. Usually first time films are a little sloppy in that department but Following showed discipline and patience behind the camera. Its also smartly written and has some standout performances. At first glance this wouldn't look like a first feature but upon closer looks, its apparent that it suffered from amateur mistakes.

I'm sure most aspiring film makers would be proud to have a film like Following as their first feature.

I wonder if Nolan even remembers he directed it....