Can you honestly tell from Following, that its first-time director Christopher Nolan is only two years away from making Memento, the film that put him on Hollywood producers’ speed-dials? Shot on weekends and holidays guerrilla-style around London for about $6,000, it is a real “you saw it here first” effort and the acting is strongly redolent of the great days of British film – it’s rank.
But when a story is this strong it barely matters. It’s simple too. We follow, in low-budget monochrome, a young, luckless and broke writer (Jeremy Theobald) who thinks it would be fun, “creative” in an artschool way, maybe, to “follow” people and see where it leads him. Immediately, he meets a very odd sort of burglar, one who steals for ideological reasons, not profit. And soon, as in all the best films, our hero’s in it right up to the armpits while the viewer is straining to work out what the hell is going on. It is great fun. It is also, if squinted at from a certain angle, full of the themes and ideas that Nolan would rework again in Memento, still his best film, if we can shut out the noise from comic corner. Talking of which Theobald does turn up in Nolan’s Batman Begins – aka The Bats, The Bats – that’s him as Young Gotham Water Board Technician.
© Steve Morrissey 2013