Following (1998)

★ ★ 1/2

Christopher Nolan's Following may not be in the same league as his subsequent films, but it was an impressive debut. Especially with a $6000 budget. It is exactly as it sounds. A movie about a man who follows people. He isn't a spy, or a stalker. He just enjoys observing people. Though the premise is simple, it is immediately clear that the plot is far from it. The timeline is non-linear, and the relationships among the central characters are always in flux. Think of it as a beta version of Memento.

The plot is too clever by a half, and the action sequences are devoid of realism, but it still manages to draw in the audience. Frankly, the cinematography was far better than the average movie. The lead actors, Jeremy Theobald and Alex Haw, were surprisingly good for a pair of unknowns. Haw has since to play a role, and Theobald only brieflly re-emerged as "Younger Gotham Water Board Technician" in Batman Begins. Lucy Russell (The Blonde) has made a career of being an adjective. Her roles have included "Female Restaurant Guest" in Batman Begins, as well as "Classy Shopper 3" in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Rather a shame that none of them has ever landed a major role.

Though the film isn't terribly important on it's own, it gives us an interesting glimpse into the psyche of Christopher Nolan--or perhaps his MO. It is the only one of his films that didn't really delve into notions of truth and justice. There were hints at those themes, but they never quite developped into anything coherent. He opted instead to focus on the boundaries between curiosity, obsession, and perversion. I can't help but wonder wonder how many random people walking in the park have ended up inspiring his films. I'm not sure if this is an examination of the theme of obsession, or an elucidation of his own. Either way, it was a worthy debut.