I discovered something exciting – a grainy black and white noirish movie directed by Christopher Nolan before his production values started competing with his imagination. Following begins with a young man (Bill) recounting his story to an older man, who could be interrogating him. We start off thinking the order of events is linear, but as the story progresses, we have fun deciphering what happened when based on some visual clues – the length of the narrator’s hair, the bruises on his face, what he is wearing.
Bill wants to be a writer. He is unemployed and has more spare hours in the day than strictly necessary. He is neither likeable nor reliable. He takes to following people – nothing sexual or terrible at first, just a pre-social media version of what we all do now. He has rules – he doesn’t follow women down dark alleys, for instance. A voyeur with too much time, who wants to think he is observing people for the sake of his writing. He tries to find out where his subjects are going, what they like, what they eat, what they have in their bags, where they are from. It’s more a game than anything sinister.
He breaks his own rule though – he follows the same person twice and then it’s not so random anymore. This person, Cobb, is a burglar – but one who is more interested in stealing memories than valuable possessions. He enjoys throwing people off balance, letting them know their homes and lives have been invaded, taking something precious so they understand the value of what they had. “Everyone has a box,” says Cobb. A box in which to supposedly hide the minutiae of their life, but one they want displayed to the world as a record of their existence. Cobb befriends Bill – and I shall not tell you what happens next – but the movie keeps you guessing. There is a final twist of course, that performs the function of tying everything up.
I will not pretend to be an expert of any sort, or use words like auteur, having only recently understood the meaning of it. I will tell you that I enjoyed watching this movie and trying to see what touches of Christopher Nolan I could detect, since to my surprise I seem to have watched all of his later movies.