Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Undoubtedly, Chris Nolan is one of the best directors working today. But where did he start you ask? Well, before showing us that memory-loss can be unforgettable with Memento, making sure we didn’t go to sleep with Insomnia and constructing the brilliant Batman Begins, he wowed the ’98 festival circuit with this crime thriller.

Curious about other people's lives, Bill (Jeremy Theobald) is a lonely would-be writer who follows strangers on the streets of London. One day he encounters a convincing burglar called Cobb (Alex Haw), who plays mind-games with the owner's lives through their property. Taken under Cobb's wing, matters are complicated when Bill makes contact with an attractive blonde (Lucy Russell) who lives in the flat they've just robbed.

Shot in handheld black and white with an obviously-low budget, it might seem rough – but what we’re watching is still pure Nolan. Writing, directing and shooting himself, the British helmer’s fingerprints are everywhere - from the non-linear structure and use of splintered timeline to the film noir feel and David Julyan’s atmospheric store. Most telling, though, is how nothing is more important to Nolan than ideas and the human psyche, showing that even with his debut he was tasteful enough to structure his pictures round storytelling while delving into the human mind. Also, rather ironically, one of the houses that gets robbed has a Batman-symbol on the door.

It’s raw but any shortcomings are overcome by the engrossing nature of the story. Plus, the unknown-cast all perform admirably, particularly the two leads, which is important given that it’s pretty much a two-hander. On the one hand Haw is suitably persuasive and charismatic as the mentoring-grifter, while Theobald (who looks like Coldplay’s Chris Martin and, occasionally, a young Bowie) is adequately cipher-like.

Chris Nolan’s first is immature, but involving nonetheless and a worthwhile start to a career worth, ahem, following.

Reviewed on: 25 Jul 2010
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A writer hooks up with a thief in a tale of cross and double-cross.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **1/2

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan, Dick Bradsell, Gillian El-Kadi, Jennifer Angel

Year: 1998

Runtime: 70 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EIFF 1999
NDNF 2021

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