Starting today, I’ll finally be posting a lot after quite a break. And, inspired by my Film Appreciation class and the several films that I’ve watched over the past few weeks, I’m going to be posting a series of film reviews. Watching films always leaves me with a lot of reflections, and as I have been encouraged to express these through reviews, I thought I’d share them here. Do share any thoughts on these films and my writing in the comments below!
Not all famed film directors and started out as strong as Christopher Nolan did with his first drama film in 1998, ‘Following’. Filmed in black-and-white, with primarily unnamed characters, no special effects, and a budget of only $6000, this film has a simplicity that translates into so much more for the audience.
Those who have seen other films of Nolan’s, like Memento, will recognise the same non-linear editing style that has been used to build suspense. Three different timelines progress simultaneously, telling the story through a three-dimensional viewpoint. This fractured narrative provides a number of clues to the viewer as to what will follow, as scenes foreshadow what is to come next and different features of the story are grouped together in a non-chronological yet seamless manner.
For someone with bad face and voice recognition, I found that the lack of character names and stark change in the appearance of The Young Man (the protagonist, as depicted by Jeremy Theobald) initially made the film confusing and difficult to follow. Constantly trying to place which scene was happening in which timeline and which character was whom almost took away from the plot. However, as soon as I was able to place these basic facts, and as the film progressed, everything fell into place. The transitions from the first to the second, and the second to the third timelines was revealed – when the Young Man cuts his hair and changes his look, when he is beaten up and left with bloodied face – and at the same time, plot twists are revealed that we had at no point anticipated. We experience entire new aspects of the characters, and find ourselves on the edge of our seats to see how the film shall end.
What remains most striking about this film is how Nolan went about the process of creating it. Shooting in 16mm black and white, and getting only about 15 minutes of footage every week over the course of about four months, he created what he has said to “probably (be) the cheapest feature ever made”. The lack of professional filming equipment in no way reduces the final effect, as it remains a neo-noir film that is still viewed and highly appreciated nearly 20 years later.