Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FOLLOWING (Christopher Nolan, 1998, UK)

A nameless man becomes a stranger to himself, a crowd of one, and desperately searches for identity in objects and transgressions. Christopher Nolan’s debut film is short in time, just over 60 minutes, but long on ideas and substance: a loner who falls victim to a violent ménage a trio.

A struggling young writer begins to follow strangers around London, observing and deducing their lives from routine and habit, a strange fiction that soon becomes a malignant fascination. When confronted by one of his subjects, he fails to consider that he may be a victim himself, reduced to an object, a behavioral pattern in a complex web of deceit.

Nolan subverts typical narrative patterns, which he would perfect in his next film MEMENTO, to create an enigma from a rather standard coda. He utilizes flashbacks and flash-forwards to extreme effect, forcing the observant viewer to piece together the story based on details such as scars/busies, hairstyles, and mundane possessions. His sudden cuts between scenes heightens suspense, a vertiginous technique that keeps the viewer focused yet slightly unbalanced.

FOLLOWING is a wonderful debut from a talented filmmaker, a creator whose cinematic ideas are balanced with fringe personas, composing an intelligent drama from film noir tropes. Unfortunately, after MEMENTO Christopher Nolan has been subsumed by Hollywood and has become master of the illusion...without substance.

Final Grade: (B+)


Shubhajit said...

Following was indeed a fine and assured debut by Chris Nolan. In fact, it also formed a fine precursor to his Memento.

Alex DeLarge said...

Thanks Shubhajit! I hope more people discover this little gem (and MEMENTO) and forgoe overblown tripe like the Batman films. I also despised his remake of INSOMNIA and much prefer the original. Which reminds me, I should watch it again (the original) and write about it.