Movie Review: Following (1998)

“Dunkirk” will be Christopher Nolan’s tenth feature film. And with the upcoming release of that movie I thought I’d go back in time a bit and check out/review his very first feature film. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Following”.

We follow a young writer (Jeremy Theobald) as he follows people around, just observing them. Then one day one of his targets, a man named Cobb (Alex Haw), notices that he’s being followed and confronts the writer. But he doesn’t threaten him or anything, but instead offers to take his stalking even further. And by that I mean Cobb helps the writer break into places, checking out people’s possessions and homes, just to get a better picture of their lives. So now we have our small noir story. And I’d say that this story is very ambitious for someone making his first feature film. But the plot here is handled surprisingly well. It even has a fractured narrative that is handled decently. However, the plot isn’t great. Since the runtime is so short (less than 70 minutes) the plot doesn’t really get time to properly develop. And the fractured narrative, while ambitious, wasn’t as good as it could have been. But overall, for such a short plot with the flaws it has, I have to commend Nolan for trying this for his first feature, especially since it didn’t turn out to be garbage. It’s pretty good.

The characters in this aren’t particularly well developed, but they’re decently interesting for this movie. The young writer in this movie is kind of a paranoid little guy who grows obsessed with this breaking and entering gig that he gets introduced to. And Jeremy Theobald is good in the role. The character of Cobb is a sly and cunning man who clearly has a lot going on behind those eyes of his. And Alex Haw is good in the role. Really, all actors do a fine job in this. None really made me go “Oh yeah, that was great”, but there were also none that made me say “Boo, you suck”. They’re passable. Even good.

The score for the movie was composed by David Julyan, a man that Nolan would work with for a couple more movies after this one. And I think Julyan’s score here is great. It is dark and eerie and actually makes my skin crawl at times. It is suitably creepy for this movie not-horror movie. Really helps elevate the movie.

As previously stated in this review, “Following” was directed by Christopher Nolan. And for being made on a ham sandwich budget, this was pretty well directed. You can see some of the things here that laid the groundwork for his style in “Memento”. Like the previously mentioned fractured narrative, and how he handled it. And while “Memento” had different color schemes for different scenes, this doesn’t really have that luxury with this movie since it was all shot on an older black and white camera, with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (makes no sense, but let’s just say that it’s small and tight). Instead he had to rely on *gasp* the audience noticing differences in clothing/haircuts. Really, he showed a lot of promise with this film, even if some things aren’t great in it. For example, there are a couple moments of action that aren’t great. And that’s not entirely on the budget, you could tell that he hadn’t really learned how to properly do that stuff yet. So that stuff bugged me a little. But overall his directing is solid, especially for a first feature film made on a ham sandwich budget.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 78% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Following” is quite impressive in terms of ham sandwich debut features. It has a good plot, okay characters, good performances, great music, and really good directing. My problems with it comes from the plot not being the most well developed, the performances being a little hit and miss, and the previously mentioned action scenes. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Following” is a 7,98/10. So even though it has flaws, I’d say that it’s definitely worth renting.

My review of “Following” is now completed.

Nolan’s come a long way.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Following (1998)

  1. Love Christopher Nolan! Even his earlier efforts showed such skill and intelligence. Him and his brother both are just such outstanding writer-directors, who deserve every bit of success they are having. 🙂

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