Rejoice, film fans, for without this ambitious neo-noir thriller we never would've gotten the Dark Knight Trilogy. Following is the directorial debut of celebrated filmmaker Christopher Nolan, and what a debut it is. This short but sweet crime drama is a glimpse at things to come. Throughout the film, you can see the filmmaking tricks he would continue to envelop from Memento all the way to Interstellar. The film itself is brilliantly written and easily stands up among any of the films in Nolan's flawless filmography.
Like most of Nolan's films, Following is built around characters. Jeremy Theobald plays the Young Man, a wannabe writer who takes to following random strangers in order to be inspired. His bizarre tic leads him to a charming thief named Cobb, played by Alex Haw, who certainly could've gone on to do great things in Hollywood if he hadn't pursued architecture. Theobald and Haw have excellent chemistry for a film made on a $6,000 budget and shot with a hand-held camera. Much like Memento, the film takes place out of order and it's up to the viewer to piece together the clues in order to figure out the payoff. In that respect, I was blown away. What took me out of the film, though, is an incredibly disastrous fight scene between the Young Man and Cobb that looked like a badly choreographed playground fight. However, since the rest of the film was so well-constructed, I'll let it slide.
This is a film that believes in the intelligence of its audience, something that Christopher Nolan has always counted on with his films. Following cements the tone and quality of everything Nolan would follow (heh-heh) it with, from the subtle clues of The Prestige to the realistic criminal element of The Dark Knight. If you want a lesson in how to make a good film on a budget, take a look at Following and ask yourself if you're able to turn such a simple concept into a neo-noir that's since become Criterion.