Director Christopher Nolan became much more widely known earlier this year with his twisty noir thriller "Memento". Yet, as with director Darren Aronofsky's leap from the micro-budgeted black & white "Pi" to "Requiem For A Dream", Nolan has a terrific little thriller in his past, as well. "Following" is a mini-"Memento", a similarly tricky exercise. It doesn't have the powerhouse acting, but it does manage to get in and out in just about 70 minutes and still feel substancial and fully-realized. It also cost a mere $6,000, according to the Internet Movie Database.
The film stars Jeremy Theobald as Bill, an unemployed writer who has let his boredom with life get the better of him. He begins to start stalking people; not with anything in mind, really. He simply believes that he's taking overhearing someone's conversations on the bus or train to another level, seeing where they're going or what they're doing - never following the same person twice, among other rules.
One day, Bill is caught by Cobb (Alex Haw), an elegant gentleman who wants to know why he's being followed. Bill explains himself, then Cobb explains what he's doing - breaking into people's homes. Not necessarily to steal things; he wants to know more about them, taking Bill's "following" to levels that Bill had promised himself that he wouldn't.
The only problem with "Following" is not the dialogue or the performances, but the structure. While "Memento" fluidly moved around and had an incredibly planned, but seemingly free-flowing structure, "Following"'s jumps back and forth seem somewhat jarring in comparison. Still, all those noir elements are involved: the girl, the double-crosses. It's satisfying, clever, boasts strong cinematography and atmosphere and is occasionally fascinating (with a good ending), but it's not without a few bumps along the road that could have been smoothed out. Still, like "Pi", it's a fascinating debut that lead to something even stronger. Hopefully Nolan's upcoming remake of "Insomnia" will be even better.
VIDEO: "Following" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, which looks to be the film's original aspect ratio. It is also in black and white and appears to be shot in 16mm. Columbia/Tristar have obviously made an attempt to show the film in the best possible fashion, as although the material is considerably low-budget, it still appears fairly strong. Sharpness and detail are not perfect, but the film does at least appear crisp and fairly well-defined throughout, even during some of the darker sequences.
Suprisingly, the film has been kept in particularly good shape. There is some noticable grain throughout, but that's simply due to the low-budget nature of the picture. Some minor specks do appear, but I really didn't find them particularly bothersome. I didn't see any instances of edge enhancement or pixelation.
SOUND: "Following" is presented in stereo, and provides a clear and enjoyable enough presentation of the film's fairly simple (dialogue and occasional light instances of score) audio.
MENUS: Main menu with slight background animation and basic options.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Christopher Nolan. As a film that cost next-to-nothing, most of the commentary is a strong discussion of how the director had to plan out the story and production in precise detail before he actually went out and shot the picture. There's also some discussion of the look and feel of the low-budget picture, as Nolan also served as the cinematographer on the picture. Given the nature of the production, there's also some chat about the obstacles that had to be overcome with no budget, such as finding locations and often having to have to use natural light because there's no time to set up other lighting. It's a low-key discussion, but Nolan provides a good deal of information both about the story and micro-budget filmmaking, while only stopping for a few minimal pauses here and there.
Multi-Angle: The next extra is a pretty cool one: the entire presentation has a second "angle" that can be accessed with the "angle" button - viewers can switch back and forth between the script pages and the film at their leisure.
Restructure: Viewers are given the option to restructure the story to watch in chronological order.
Also: Trailers for "Following" and "Memento", along with bios.
Final Thoughts: "Following" is a clever and tricky thriller that only gets a little too twisty for its own good at times. Columbia/Tristar's DVD provides better-than-expected audio/video for the low-budget thriller, as well as some good supplements. Recommended and especially for fans of "Memento".