Following is a 1998 neo-noir, Christopher Nolan's first feature-length film.The plot concerns a young, unemployed writer who takes to following random strangers through the streets of London, ostensibly seeking inspiration for stories. He sets rules to keep this low-level stalking from going too far, but quickly breaks these rules upon discovering that his latest subject is a burglar. The burglar, one Mr. Cobb, confronts the writer; recognizing him as an impressionable soul, Cobb suggests the writer accompany him on his next break-in.Cobb is rather philosophical about his profession: he doesn't burglarize for the money, but for the thrill of invading others' privacy and the intellectual interest of learning about the lives of complete strangers from their possessions. He justifies his thefts and petty vandalism by stating that this forces his victims to reevaluate their own lives. The writer tries to remain an aloof observer, but Cobb's voyeurism draws him in—into a relationship with a blonde model (one of Cobb's victims), a blackmail plot, and a very nasty triple-cross.Now has a character sheet in need of expansion.Not be confused with the television series starring Kevin Bacon, The Following.
"Why would you want to fuck up their example list?" "You take it away, to show them what they had."
"They probably just misplaced the examples..."
Anachronic Order: Used to keep the audience in the dark about the blonde's and Cobb's real motivations, just like the writer was. The bulk of the film is a flashback related by the writer to a police detective. Within that flashback, three streams (originating at the beginning, the one-third point, and the two-thirds point of the story) run concurrently.
Anti-Hero: The Young Man / The Writer is an impressionable loser who quickly gets hooked into dubious hijinks.
Back Blocking: The final shot is Cobb standing in a crowded street. Someone walks in front of the camera, and once they pass by, Cobb is gone without a trace.
The Bad Guy Wins: Cobb is revealed to be working for the Bald Guy, and he murders the blonde with the same hammer the Writer used during the burglary of the Bald Guy, due to the Blonde blackmailing the Bald Guy with evidence to the murder that he committed in her flat. The Writer is held responsible for all of Cobb's crimes, and Cobb goes free, without a trace.
Batman Gambit : If one considers that a few minor details could've made the whole thing fall apart.
Beardness Protection Program: At Cobb's suggestion, the writer shaves his beard and changes his whole appearance to avoid being recognized by a witness.
Blackmail: But not by the person you think is pulling it.
Break-In Threat: Sometimes Cobb doesn't take anything, but just goes through keepsakes and makes sure the people there know it, in order to disrupt their lives.
Chekhov's Gun: The pearl earring that Cobb hid, the credit card that belonged to D. Lloyd, the hammer used during the theft of the Bald Guy and the murder of the Blonde, the pairs of the Blonde's underwear, and the passport photos of the Blonde are all used as evidence against Cobb, or rather, the Writer.
Covert Pervert: During their theft of the blonde's apartment, Cobb and the writer steal some of her underwear.
Criminal Doppelgänger: The twist ending of Following is The Reveal that Cobb was deliberately grooming "Bill" to be his fall guy for the police to arrest—aside from deliberately planting evidence to falsely implicate him, he even surreptitiously convinced Bill to start dressing like him.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: A rather subtle one at the end, harkening back to what started the whole thing. After framing the Writer for the Blonde's murder, Cobb makes his escape through a crowd. He pauses to look around if he's been followed again, then dissappears forever.
Drop the Hammer: Several characters are strong believers in the use of ordinary hardware hammers as weapons of self-defense, torture, or murder.
Evil Plan: Stalking for story inspiration doesn't sound evil but it does get the plot in motion and lead to the other plans.
Fall Guy: Ultimately, the plot boils down to a very elaborate scheme to set up a semi-innocent man to take the fall for a crime that has not yet been committed.
Karma Houdini: Cobb kills the Blonde and frames the Writer for it. The last we see of Cobb is him standing in a crowd of people as he looks around as if checking if he's been followed, and then... he's gone.
No Budget: The budget was about $6000; Nolan said that, even for a low-budget shoot, the production was "extreme".
Not So Abandoned Building: The burglar Cobb has a few hideouts in abandoned buildings where he stashes stolen goods before fencing them. He notes that London is full of spaces like these, waiting to be used.
Nameless Narrative: The characters' names are not revealed, except for Cobb, and that may or may not be a pseudonym; the writer alternately gives his name as Bill or Daniel, but he's just listed in the credits as "the young man".
One-Book Author: Most of the cast were just friends of Nolan's who had day jobs. Cobb is actor Alex Haw's one and only film credit, though he gives a good performance. This is also Jeremy Theobald's only major screen role. He has a regular job in the field of health.
The Spook: Cobb. The police have no record of his existence, and he tricks his fall guy into dressing and looking just like him. The final shot of the film is Cobb stepping into a bustling street and completely disappearing.