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In Christopher Nolan's feature length debut, A young writer who follows strangers for material meets a thief who takes him under his wing.
For more about Following and the Following Blu-ray release, see Following Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan, Dick Bradsell
» See full cast & crew
Following Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 2, 2012
Christopher Nolan's "Following" (1998) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers for the film; exclusive video interview with director Christopher Nolan; audio commentary with director Christopher Nolan; script to film scene comparisons; and an alternative version of the film. The release also arrives with a leaflet featuring Scott Foundas' essay "Nolan Begins". In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
He (Jeremy Theobald) is a writer who likes to follow strangers, men and women. He never talks to them. He quietly observes them from afar and thinks about their personalities. The majority of them are like open books, ready to share their secrets if one knows how to read them. He can immediately separate the happy ones from the miserable ones, the winners from the losers.
One day He sees Cobb (Alex Haw), a handsome young man who confuses him. Cobb seems like a man who is well aware that someone might be paying attention to what he does and say in public. When Cobb enters a small café, He follows him, hoping to get a better look at him.
Much to He's surprise, however, Cobb approaches him and tells him that he knows that he has been following him. Cobb isn't particularly interested in knowing exactly why because he already likes He. He has talent, the kind that Cobb values, the kind that one has to have in his line of work. Before He could figure out exactly how to react without embarrassing himself, Cobb also reveals to him that he is a burglar. Then he invites He to become his partner.
The two men break into someone else's apartment. Then Cobb once again confuses He when he confesses to him that he does not do what he does for the money. He likes the feeling and the ritual. The former is like a drug to him, and he can't live without it. The latter is just as important – the preparation process stimulates his mind. Like He, Cobb has become so good that now he can immediately tell what type of a person lives in the place he is robbing just by looking at the scattered books, the food in the fridge, the CDs on the shelf. He can even sniff a pair of stockings and tell if the woman he is robbing is in a serious relationship with a man.
He is speechless. With a man like Cobb he will have endless material for his book, the next one, even the one after it. Barely able to contain his excitement, He decides to ask Cobb to rob the apartment of the beautiful blonde (Lucy Russell) he met in that cozy bar a couple of nights ago. A few minutes in her place and Cobb will tell him everything he needs to know about her.
Christopher Nolan's Following is a stylish, dark, remarkably well composed film. It reminds about the lush noir films from the early '40 but it has the edge and attitude great contemporary crime thrillers have (while watching it, I kept thinking about Stephen Frears' The Grifters).
The film had a limited budget, but Nolan does wonders with the camera. Each sequence is shot with impeccable precision and very clear understanding about its placement and purpose. When they begin overlapping, the film becomes even tighter, even more focused.
The acting is just as impressive. It is casual but utterly convincing. The feeling that the two leads were unaware that Nolan's camera was closely following them never leaves the film. The sequences where they don't utter a single word are some of the best – Nolan simply points the camera towards their faces and they do all the talking. The atmosphere in these sequences is fantastic.
Following is also complimented by a shockingly good soundtrack blending lush electronica with beautiful piano themes courtesy of David Julyan (Insomnia, The Prestige). Each of the main tracks could have easily been used in David Lynch's best films. Simply superb.
Note: In 1999, Following won the prestigious Tiger Award (Christopher Nolan) at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Following Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Christopher Nolan's Following arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised by director Christopher Nolan, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the original 16mm camera negative at Cinelicious in Hollywood.
The film's original monaural soundtrack was remastered from a 16mm optical print. In addition, the original mix masters were remastered into a 48 kHz, 24-bit 5.1 surround mix by rerecording mixer Gary Rizzo.
Transfer supervisor: Christopher Nolan.
Colorist: Kostas Theodosiou/Fotokem, Burbank, CA."
The high-definition transfer is quite incredible. For a 16mm film depth is simply outstanding, while shadow definition is the best I have seen on a 16mm black and white film to date. Clarity is also fantastic, even during sequences where light is restricted (such as the robbery sequence at the end of the film). Color grading and especially color density are also exceptionally strong - from start to finish the film looks enormously healthy and lush. There isn't even a whiff of sharpening. Also, there are absolutely no traces of excessive degraining/denoising. Lastly, there are no large damage marks, debris, or warps. All in all, this truly is a flawless presentation of Christopher Nolan's first feature film that is guaranteed to please its fans. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Following Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
There is quite a big difference between the film's original mono track and the new 5.1 surround track. On the 5.1 track fluidity and depth are substantially better (compare the closing credits theme). Dynamic movement is also a lot better. This becomes very obvious when David Julyan's moody score is heard throughout the film. The dialog is very crisp, exceptionally clean and stable. There are no distortions or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Following Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Following Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If the directors that made many of the greatest noir films from the early '40s and '50s were still alive today, I think that they would be making films that looked a lot like Christopher Nolan's Following. These films would probably be complimented by soundtracks that will be very similar to the one David Julyan composed for Following as well. This is a flawless film, really. The British director has gone on to shoot some really big and very successful films since 1998, but I think that Following remains his masterpiece. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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