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Long before he was the architect of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan made this quirky little head trip of a movie, now available on Criterion high-def....
Criterion / 69 Minutes / 1998 / Rated R / Street Date: December 11, 2012
Bill (Jeremy Theobald) is a man so lonely that he will follow random strangers just to satiate his interest in their domestic lives - an activity he describes as "shadowing". But one day he follows a man who happens to be a well-dressed thief, Cobb (Alex Haw). Cobb's keen antenna, however, sharply corners Bill, but Cobb is intrigued by his compulsion, and together they begin to break into people's homes to steal worthless keepsakes. What follows is a surprisingly clever double cross, even triple cross, as a series of events threatens the lives of all involved.
Prior to directing his hit thriller Memento, Christopher Nolan wrote, directed and photographed this economically-made black and white sleeper. Nolan seems very interested in the idiosyncratic motivations of people's subconscious, and loves his character's many quirks, so much so that the plot and ultimate resolution are almost secondary.
Admittedly, the double and triple crosses are incorporated very well into the drama, but in the end this slow-paced thriller and the basic premise of "following" lives bored me. Moreover, and this may be my own biased, but Nolan seems less than interested in what drove these two unusual criminals to these compulsions, which only lessened the film's impact.
Nevertheless, the film remains an ambitious curio, with surprisingly creepy cinematography, solid editing, fine performances, and an edgy score by David Julyan. Nolan also has a fine ear for dialogue, and there are a few thrills to be had with any film this voyeuristic. So though I didn't emotionally connect with the film that great, the craft of its making, and passion therein have created a strong fan base, along with some worthy critical acclaim.