A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Produced By: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Jeremy Theobald
Written By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russel
Running Time: 69 Minutes
Every director has to start somewhere. One is not simply handed a contract for a three-picture superhero deal worth approximately half a Billion dollars without demonstrating they have what it takes.
Christopher Nolan’s feature-length debut is a modest black and white love letter to the classics that focuses on the very nature of storytelling in its most organic but voyeuristic form.
You see a crowd of people, you pick a stranger from that crowd and focus your attention solely on that stranger. Suddenly they’re no longer part of that crowd. This is the very nature of storytelling, and Following explores the notion superbly.
With an unusual runtime of a mere 69 minutes, Following is the story of a young writer (Jeremy Theobald) with a fascination for people who regularly follows strangers around the city of London. Sounding more like a sociopath than a curious soul, the writer abides by a set of self-inflicted rules in order to not harm, hinder or harass anybody during his following.
Slightly bedraggled and down on his luck, the protagonist (who initially is the spitting image of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke) comes into contact with a suave, confident thief who decides to bring him into his world. What follows is a tense but plodding thriller that serves as a solid launching spot for one of the most successful directorial careers in history.
Jeremy Theobald is a wonderfully dull lead, it’s surprising we haven’t seen much more of him. The growth of his character is fascinating to watch as there isn’t much growth at all, at least in the conventional sense.
His master, of sorts, played by Alex Haw is also a gifted talent; however Following is the only acting credit he has to his name. For a man that graduated from Bartett School of Architecture in London, Haw was able to design and construct an intriguing figure in Following who is able to bounce excellently off Theobald in the process.
The camera techniques employed by Nolan are gritty and shaky, adding some urgency and vigour to the story. Mirroring the writer’s actions and following closely behind the action for extended periods at a time, Nolan’s techniques are subtle, but are able to make a statement all the same. Shot indoors, on the street and most notably on rooftops, a film such as On The Waterfront (1954) springs to mind as a potential inspiration.
The way Nolan can capture the vastness of the city from above, all the while creating a sense of claustrophobia is something special. Expecting to see a caped vigilante glide past in the background, the rooftop scenes are one of the highlights from the film with long takes, precise framing and deliberately wobbly techniques utilised very well.
Christopher Nolan’s full-length feature debut is an impressively toned down thriller with a limited cast, a limited budget, but a concept that allows for anything to happen.
With the grainy black and white colour pallet lending itself seamlessly to the story, it shows in later films such as Memento that Nolan understands how and when to utilise various cinematic techniques to his advantage.
It’s not his best work, but debuts rarely are. It does show however, that Nolan is supreme talent behind the camera, yet he has never managed to film a solid fight sequence…