(1998)3.5Derek ArmstrongThe roots of Memento are evident in Christopher Nolan's brilliant first feature, the black-and-white puzzle Following, which previews the filmmaker's fondness for unconventional chronology and deceitful trickery. Influenced by the films of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, Nolan fills the screen with antique typewriters, old-model televisions, and timeless wardrobes, transforming his shoestring budget into an homage to the French New Wave that might have taken place or been filmed decades ago. It's one of many ways Nolan is conscious of time, a construct he manipulates on the most noticeable level by fragmenting the chronology according to a precise expository pattern in his head. In addition to more traditionally structured scenes, his film contains a series of tantalizing, non-sequential images that reveal themselves as the narrative unfolds, the various haircuts and facial bruises of his lead character (Jeremy Theobald) eventually coalescing into coherence. Following starts as a profile of a man who shadows random people out of a sociological interest tinged with perverse loneliness, which itself might have sustained a brisk, 71-minute movie. But then Nolan changes direction by introducing a different loner, Alex Haw's Cobb, who deflects focus toward a dispassionate treatise on burglary, the value of sentimental possessions and the sanctity of violated privacy. Nor is this the last narrative twist up the director's sleeve. The dialogue and acting are both quite mature for the resources available to Nolan, especially given his own inexperience. In fact, Memento might have been billed as "from the director of Following" if the film had gotten enough exposure to be recognized as the debut of a major talent.