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  • Gareth Crook

Following (1998)

I’m filling in some Christopher Nolan blanks while we wait for Tenet. This was his directorial feature debut. It’s wonderfully lo-fi. Graded in grainy black and white and shot mostly hand held, it’s got a voyeuristic feel. Jeremy Theobold, credited as ‘The Young Man’ (he has no name) likes to follow people. To see where they go. He’s explaining this pastime to ‘The Policeman’ (John Nolan... uncle in case you were wondering), which suggests something may have gone wrong, although we’ll have to be patient to find out what. He’s a nice guy though it seems, he has rules, although freely admits to breaking some of them. After following one bloke into a cafe, he’s confronted and finds himself being introduced to Cobb (Alex Haw), a confident thief. The Young Man is interested in people, he likes Cobb’s analysis of his prey. Being analytical is a very Nolan trait. The film is built in chapters, Cobb is the first. He’s followed by ‘The Blonde’ (Lucy Russell), who’s involved with ‘The Bald Guy’ (Dick Bradsell) and... well I won’t spoil it. These chapters and characters start to splinter as the narrative fractures into an increasing non-linear form, another Nolan hallmark. There’s some lovely stuff as the story weaves and bobs intelligently, showing just how manipulative our cast is. There’s signposts to the narrative, black eyes, hammers, literal hidden keys, but the fun is seeing how these events unfold on screen in relation to the viewer figuring out the true chronology and what that means. I twig about half way through what it means, or what I think it means and honestly this spoils it a bit for me when I find I’m right. This film works best when you’re in the dark, following expectantly. It’s not amazing, clearly on a budget with cheap locations, but there’s a lot to enjoy and it shows the promise that Nolan went on to deliver. The electro synth score works well, it’s sparse and austere. The edit is functional, but effective. Granted some of the acting is a bit flat, but all in all it’s a solid start and with a thrifty runtime it’s an easy albeit twisty watch.



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