When Christopher Nolan's blockbuster Memento made its theatrical debut in 2001, people were oohing and aahing over his masterful use of time line manipulation, but it wasn't the first time... he had done it three years before with a clever little film called Following.
Set in London, Following is the story of Bill, a lonely unemployed author experiencing writer's block. Short on cash and ideas and fueled by his voyeuristic fetish, he devises a game: pick a random pedestrian and follow them around town observing their daily routine. There are some rules though... he never follows the same person more than once and he never gets involved in their lives. He tells himself this is strictly research for potential characters in his writing, but it soon goes beyond research when he follows and ultimately develops a relationship with a mysterious well-dressed man named Cobb. Unfortunately for Bill, Cobb has a few secrets and an agenda of his own and nothing is as it seems.
Winner of the Tiger Award and an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, Following was shot on a six thousand dollar budget by Nolan and his crew on weekends over the course of a year. Nolan has long been fascinated with the concept of time and incorporates "parallel narrative time lines" to give the film a real-life feel to it. Borrowing heavily on personal experiences, he presents the viewer with an intriguing puzzle of a film that blurs the line between good and bad, past and present and reality. With budget constraints always a concern, great use was made of obscure London locales, the homes of cast and crew (and in some cases their relatives') were used for interior scenes, rooftop shots are plentiful because the filmmakers lacked permits, and family, friends and crew were used as extras to keep the film's costs down. Jeremy Theobald, superb as Bill, does double duty as star and co-producer (along with Nolan's wife Emma) and Alex Haw's Cobb is both charming and apathetic. There is great onscreen chemistry between Theobald and Haw and their characters present quite a contrast in attractiveness. Lucy Russell as a mysterious blonde rounds out the impressive cast.
The film is presented in 1.33:1 full screen in black & white. Shot on 16mm with a Bolex wind-up camera, Nolan wanted a documentary-style look to the film, therefore it is intentionally grainy, dark and hard-shadowed. Existing natural light was used whenever possible and the picture has a cold (but effective) film noir-ishness about it.
The English 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack is sufficient for this mostly dialogue-driven and minimalistic film. There is little surround activity, but the dialogue and David Julyan's score are clear and hiss-free through the center speaker. English and Spanish subtitles are also offered.
Menus/Chapter Stops - There are 14 chapter stops which consist of stills from the film set six at a time against a static background. The main menu and extras menu are out-of-focus animated clips accompanied by instrumental music.
Director's Commentary - Christopher Nolan's commentary is very articulate and scene-specific but he is not the most dynamic speaker and the commentary seems aimed at other potential directors. He recounts his personal experiences which inspired the premise for the film, how he was able to shoot the film with his "no budget" budget, lighting techniques, locales, etc...
Second Angle Showing Director's Shooting Script - A feature that allows you to compare what made it from the screenplay into the actual film by switching back and forth between the two.
Ability to Restructure the Story Chronologically - Allows you to watch the film in chronological order.
Trailers - Trailers for Following and Memento are offered.
Cast and Crew Biographies - Biographies for the three lead actors, director Nolan, the producer and executive producer and composer Dave Julyan are featured.
In the land of popular opinion, Memento is considered superior to Following on all levels - I personally prefer Following. From the chronological deviations to the cold gritty look of the black & white camera work to Jeremy Theobald's brilliant performance, the film is a fascinating 71 minutes. If you are looking for something more cerebral, slightly off-kilter or just downright bizarre, then Following is the film for you. The disc is a bit short on extras, but Columbia TriStar has given the film a nice DVD treatment and any work by Nolan is well worth a watch.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 17:58:24