Following — Effective Manipulation of Fate and Time
First time viewers may find some scenes disconnected to the progress of the story. But when the twist is revealed in the final act, our mind will travel back in time understanding the purpose of those shots, we thought as trivial, holding the keys to the secrets. It is a moment when the viewer gets to understand the entire plot instantly in a flash. This trait is common with plot twists. But the intensity of the surprise it blows you with depends on the intelligence of the writer. And Nolan scores distinction.
The choice of non-linear plot structure of the film seems the best choice for it maintains the suspense string taut till the end. Nolan through his visual narration leaves a lot of clues and when their connection to the plot is revealed to the viewer, it leaves him in total surprise. And that’s a perfect brand thriller experience. Most of the viewers would certainly run back to pick up the clues scattered in the plot and connect them to the ultimate scene. Watching this movie is not much different from a treasure hunt experience.
In fact the very idea was conceived by Nolan while his home was broke into in reality, and the plot is an outcome of his muse over this. The analytical explanation lectured by Cobb to Bill could actually have been Nolan’s contemplation over his real life experience. Through Cobb the writer examines the psychological relationships between the personality of human beings and their materialistic possessions. One’s mental make up could indeed be studied with their belongings. Nolan adds wisely this behavioural study in this thriller package.
This is Nolan’s debut feature. His filmography by then had just a short film (Doodlebug, 1997). Nolan’s was a bold launch, as this film was written, directed, filmed, co-edited and co-produced by him. The entire cinema was filmed in London on a 16mm stock in B&W. The making style of the movie says that the work is planned and designed to be as inexpensive as possible. Following is a wonderful example that proves strongly the fact that, the script is the king. It serves as a proven example for the film making aspirants that only a good script is essential for making a good film and budget is never a constraint for making a successful cinema. The movie grossed about seven times its making cost (roughly $6000) and that’s great news. As an interesting similarity noted off beat Indian film maker Anurag Kashyap also has the same MO in making his films.
David Julyan’s original music adds tension to the plot and elevates the dramatic experience. The music paired with the tight editing wows the show. Though the films running time is shot, it was filmed for about a year, since many in the cast were not full time actors. So they could pack for shoots only on week ends. Also extensive rehearsals were done before shoot, so that the finals shots were taken within one or two takes. This was an attempt to reduce film wastage and hence the production cost. This film is a notable work in neo-noir genre that engages the viewer throughout.
To my knowledge “Following” is the cheapest among the shoe-string budget movies. The only movie that comes at this category for now is “Primer” (2002). And to ones surprise that is a sci-fi movie.