Following (1998)

following poster 1998 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some innovative stuff, guerilla style

Feels somewhat like a student film at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Following

Studio:  Next Wave Films/Syncopy

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  April 24, 1998 (San Francisco International Film Festival)/November 5, 1999 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  R

following jeremy theobald alex haw

Careful who you follow

A man (Jeremy Theobald) who likes to follow people begins to break his own rules.  When he is approached by Cobb (Alex Haw) who has seen him watching, he learns Cobb is a robber and joins him on his excursions.  The man becomes infatuated with a woman (Lucy Russell) he has followed and learns that the woman is suffering her own crisis in the form of a blackmailer who has incriminating photos of her…but who is following whom?

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Following is a mystery thriller.  The film was the premiere film of Nolan and received positive reviews.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #638).

I saw Memento in the theater and saw that Nolan was a new up-and-coming director when I saw it.  Despite loving Nolan and seeing all his movies, I never went back and tracked down Following.  Watching it, I see a lot of his later work, but I also see an early filmmaker.

following alex haw jeremy theobald

So you want to be a thief?

The film is shot as mostly flashbacks and like Memento with its narrative order played with.  The man (who doesn’t have an official name) is telling the police his involvement and how he follows people.  The film is rather short which is good and the movie doesn’t hold onto its secrets too long which is also good since it felt like the movie threatened to give up too easy.  It feels a bit student film at points, but the movie works.

The cast is young but does the best they can.  The sullen Jeremy Theobald plays “the man” and for being a writer, he isn’t very intuitive as he falls into a snare.  The rope continues to tighten as the movie goes on, but he does a poor job protecting himself (when it seems like it could be an easy fix).  Lucy Russell plays “the woman” who also is part of the trap (in femme-fatale style) but doesn’t realize her role until it is too late.  Alex Haw is the heavy as the thief with all the answers…it seems a bit obvious that he’s playing another angle.

following blonde lucy russell

A femme-fatale?

The movie is very noir in style (it is in black-and-white), but it is a modern noir.  It was shot in almost guerilla style and that gives the film some edge to it that wouldn’t exist if it was a big-budget telling of the story.  The movie is small, and it had to be.

Nolan is willing to take changes, and Following is a good start.  It reminds me a bit of Nolan’s contemporary Darren Aronofsky and his first movie Pi (also released in 1998).  Both movies are a bit flawed, but both show an innovative beginning filmmaker that has a lot of untapped potential.  Fan of Nolan should seek out Following.  Nolan followed Following with Memento in 2000.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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