Justly acclaimed on the festival circuit, this ultra low-budget crime thriller heralds a singular talent in its writer/ director/cinematographer Christopher Nolan. The premise has Hitchcockian echoes. A struggling young writer, Bill (Theobald), who randomly follows strangers around London, encounters compulsive burglar Cobb (Haw). The latter takes Bill under his wing and demonstrates his method - - the goal is less about financial gain than provoking a human response ("You take it away and show them what they had" is Cobb's rationale for his thefts). Bill is fascinated, but after robbing a flat with his new mentor, falls in love with its occupant, a beautiful blonde (Russell) who's connected to the criminal underworld...
Adhering to Jean-Luc Godard's maxim that a film should have "a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order", Nolan scrambles the chronology, leaving the audience to make the connections between the various scenes and characters in this narrative jigsaw. Peopled by film noir archetypes (the innocent fall guy, the gangster's moll, the accomplished con artist), Following unspools as a taut and engrossing scam movie, and yet it's also a comment on the film-making/viewing process, with Cobb's showman director figure preying on Bill's (and our) voyeuristic impulses - - Cobb, crucially, is shown to choose the very items that he believes will capture Bill's attention.
Impressively acted by the unknown cast, and eerily shot in black and white, Nolan successfully creates his own distinctive cinematic world, leaving en route a trail of objects which may or may not have any meaning. The director is already at work in Hollywood on his second feature: this debut, which clocks in at just 70 minutes, may ultimately be seen to be as significant as Blood Simple or Shallow Grave.