If I asked you to name your favourite Christopher Nolan film, chances are you’d say either Inception or The Dark Knight. Some of you might go as far back as Batman Begins or The Prestige. A few of you die-hard Chris Nolan fans may have been following the director since his early films Memento and Insomnia. But before all of that—before Heath Ledger told us how he got his scars, before Guy Pierce took off his shirt and showed the world his freaky tattoos—before any of that, a twenty-seven year old Chris Nolan, with a six thousand dollar budget and the help of his friends, made a little black and white film entitled Following.
Following tells the story of a lonely young man who fancies himself a writer and spends his free time following random strangers as they go about their daily lives. At first he does it merely to pass the time, but after a while this following becomes an obsession and he has to make up rules to keep it under control—don’t follow people for too long, never follow women down dark alleys, never follow the same person twice—that was the most important rule, and that was the rule that he broke first. It leads him into a world of lies and deceit, begging a hundred thousand questions, such as who is following whom?
The film is superbly acted—maybe not quite Oscar worthy, but not too shabby considering the cast consists primarily of nonactors (Nolan even enlisted his own uncle for a role). This is a must see for all Chris Nolan fans. Don’t expect to see any explosions, car chases or zero-gravity fight sequences, but Following will take on a thrillride of its very own with twist that does The Usual Suspects proud.
At a runtime of just under seventy minutes, Following can scarcely be called a feature film based on length alone, but the story is anything but lacking. Shot in Nolan’s native London over the course of an entire year, shooting took place only on weekends as the cast and crew had full-time jobs. Christopher Nolan, as we all know, has since gone on to bigger and better things, including three Oscar nominations and hundred-million dollar budget pictures, but it is interesting to take a look back at his humble beginnings.