Arts oldies but goodies

A nefariously brilliant crime thriller of old times

You never know who is following whom

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan
Starring Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan
Rated NR
Streaming on Amazon Prime

Shot in a black and white London, the movie begins with a person wearing surgical gloves, shifting belongings into a box in the most harmless way possible. However, the eerie background score intensifies as the person continues to transfer the objects, and we see the title of the movie, Following.

The movie then transitions to a conversation, where we hear “The Young Man” (Jeremy Theobald) giving his account of certain incidents. We are taken through a flashback where the story unravels from his perspective. As an unemployed aspiring writer, “The Young Man” decides to start following random strangers out of sheer boredom and loneliness. He then takes it to the next level and follows people to gather material for his novel. His seemingly innocuous avocation soon turns into a dangerous obsession when he begins targeting people he finds interesting and tailing them. 

Following offers a glimpse into the minds of those who shadow strangers, those who indulge in burglary, and those who get burgled. We are introduced to characters who give us a totally different perspective on events that are typically ordinary, such as writing a personal diary. We get to see the characters evolve over the movie, and the various shades in a character are revealed one sequence at a time. Following is a film where the moment you think you have cracked the puzzle, you realize that there is so much more to it.

I watched Following as a huge fan of Christopher Nolan, having watched Nolan’s other films: The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, and Tenet. I did not expect anything less than a classic Nolan masterpiece while watching Following, and, of course, Nolan delivered nothing less. Despite the lack of Nolan-esque visual spectacles due to the small budget, Nolan keeps us thinking and guessing with his gripping screenplay in this crisp crime thriller.

Christopher Nolan is known to have a singular vision of “time,” and we can see this fascination with “time” in Following, too. Most of the movie is shown as “The Young Man’s” narrative. However, within this narrative, the incidents are not presented in chronological order. Instead, we see an incident before the movie cuts to a sequence which would lead to the incident we just witnessed, and this happens several times in the movie. This non-linear narrative helps maintain the suspense while keeping us actively involved with the movie.

Following is not only the debut feature of Nolan as a director, but also a debut feature for most actors in the film, such as Theobald and Lucy Russell (who plays “The Blonde”). The story revolves around a few characters, and all the actors do complete justice to their roles. The background score is intense at times, hinting at the impending doom. Although we journey through the movie along with “The Young Man”, there is no way we could possibly guess what’s happening until the very end, and this keeps us captivated.

Overall, the story of a person who obsessively shadows a stranger and practically invites trouble into his life is sure to keep you guessing until the very end. Following is Nolan’s first, yet undoubtedly one of his best thrillers ever.