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Following (1998)

Following Directed by
Christopher Nolan

Writing credits
Christopher Nolan

An older man listens to Bill's story about being a callow writer who likes to follow strangers around around London, observing them. One day, a glib and self-confident man whom Bill has been following confronts him. He's Cobb, a burglar who takes Bill under his wing and shows him how to break and enter. They burgle a woman's flat; Bill gets intrigued with her (photographs are everywhere in her flat). He follows her and chats her up at a bar owned by her ex-boyfriend, a nasty piece of work who killed someone in her living room with a hammer. Soon Bill is volunteering to do her a favor, which involves a break-in. What does the older man know that Bill doesn't?

Plot Summary for
Following (1998)

An older man listens to Bill's story about being a callow writer who likes to follow strangers around around London, observing them. One day, a glib and self-confident man whom Bill has been following confronts him. He's Cobb, a burglar who takes Bill under his wing and shows him how to break and enter. They burgle a woman's flat; Bill gets intrigued with her (photographs are everywhere in her flat). He follows her and chats her up at a bar owned by her ex-boyfriend, a nasty piece of work who killed someone in her living room with a hammer. Soon Bill is volunteering to do her a favor, which involves a break-in. What does the older man know that Bill doesn't?

The protagonist of Following is Bill (Jeremy Theobald). Bill is an unemployed aspiring writer who lives a solitary and boring life in London, England. Bill has a fascination with people, and with hopes of finding material to write about, begins to pick individuals out of a crowd, and to follow them. Bill establishes rules to keep him out of trouble and to keep his 'following' random, but soon enough he breaks one of his rules by following someone more than once. The character he follows on numerous occasions first is Cobb (Alex Haw). Cobb a confident and intelligent burglar catches Bill spying on him and soon involves Bill in his peculiar burglaries. Similar to Bill's interest in following, Cobb has a great interest in the individuals he is stealing from. During the robbery of a residence Bill becomes interested in the woman (Lucy Russell) who owns the flat, so he begins to follow her. Eventually he decides to meet her and they begin seeing each other. This upsets Cobb as he also learns the woman has asked Bill to do a job for her. But things are not as they seem, and soon Bill will find out why.


Christopher Nolan's first directorial effort, a year before he did "Memento," and this is almost as brilliant as that classic. He uses time differentials in a similar manner to tell his story, and it's a very clever one.

Bill is this young writer who begins following complete strangers around just to see where they live and what they're all about. One day, he follows this man, Cobb, who turns the tables and confronts Bill, who breaks down and confesses what he's up to.

Cobb is a burglar and he takes Bill along on a few jobs to teach him the ropes. Both men are voyeurs of a sort and a bond begins to grow between the two of them.

But there's an ulterior motive for Cobb nurturing this relationship, and it all ties in very smartly at the end. No, I won't spoil it but this is a very cool movie and I'm beginning to think Christopher Nolan is a genius.

If you like suspense films with surprise endings, this one is a must see.
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