May 7, 2010
Though Christopher Nolan first gained notoriety thanks to Memento, he's much more well-known for his reboot of the Batman series now. However, despite being known for titanic films, even Nolan had humble beginnings as his first film - Following - proves. It may be Nolan's weakest entry, but even the great Sergio Leone didn't have too great of a directorial debut. This film, running at a low runtime of an hour and ten minutes, is actually very smart, slick, and sophisticated despite its flaws.

The film follows an unnamed writer who, after an extended period of writer's block, begins to follow people to gain inspiration. Though he does follow people, anything beyond that (to the point of stalking) is out of the question for him. Things go awry quickly, though, after our protagonist decides to 'follow' a certain businessman twice - a businessman who turns out to be more sinister than he appears. What follows is a bizarre and paranoid tale of neo-noir and suspicion.

As far as characterization goes, these people aren't quite the most well-developed. They seem to just simply be there, though I wouldn't go so far as to call them shallow or something like that. The characters are still very interesting despite how small their personalities are, which is sort of a mixed blessing. In short, there isn't too much to say about the characters, but they still leave an impression upon the viewer. Cobb, especially, had to be the most fascinating character of the film. A lovable rogue with a hint of malice in his heart, Cobb, as well as the actor who portrayed him, really stole the show for me.

The visuals aren't amazing, but this is an indie film after all. It looks quite nice, and I'm Nolan went to great lengths with his noir work. There are some pretty basic, yet still very effective, shots here, and I really enjoyed seeing Nolan's style present despite the fact that this was his directorial debut. It's very noir-like, and this noir style of filming would become essential during the shooting of Memento.

The pacing's great in this film, as most shorter films tend to be. There were a few moments when the film could drag, but it's a thrill to watch during the majority of the movie. Again, we can see Nolan's style before it became prominent, such as with Nolan's use of multiple timelines (which would become staples of his later works). However, I didn't think that Nolan's use of multiple timelines was as effective here as it would later become. It works in a few instances, but it feels as if the movie's intentionally trying to be vague with its audience. By the time we put together the "mystery" of the film, we're given a payoff that leaves a lot to be desired.

It's not that the ending's incredibly bad or anything, but it feels really cheap when compared with the rest of the film. It's completely story-based and you'll probably see the blatant "twist" coming from miles away. Seriously, it's completely obvious.

The film's not entirely that great. The characters are lacking, the ending's sort of disappointing, and it can sometimes drag despite having a relatively small runtime. It's made up, however, through some interesting situations, a great setting of mood, impressive indie visuals, and some pretty good acting. Following may not be that great, but it's still pretty good.

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