"Following" (1998) is a good neo-noir. Theobald plays a young man without a strong sense of stability, purpose or drive. He's playing at being a writer, trying to get into it, but not yet tapping into whatever creative potential he has. He and the film convey a strong feeling of being uprooted, of not yet having found himself, of searching, of being susceptible to outside influences. Acting on impulse or the intuition that he can progress if he follows people around and sees what sorts of characters that people are, he follows Alex Haw. Haw turns out to be a burglar. When Haw discovers that Theobald is following him, he takes him under his wing.
The film looks good in black and white and pursues a noir plot with several layers, making it interesting. The film deliberately mixes up the time sequence of events, and this contributes to the feeling of basic instability. And it gives a feeling of really not knowing what might occur next to someone (here, Theobald) because the differences in his appearance and status take leaps that are, for the moment, unexplained. The film feels like something out of 60s London.
At times the story has too much talking, which I take to be a common characteristic of British cinema. The film has fewer noir visual devices or aspects than one might expect. By way of comparison, early Kubrick films like "Killer's Kiss" (1955) contain more. Many of the setups here are conventional. Kubrick also fractionated time, as in "The Killing" (1956) but with a narrative reason. "Following" relies much more heavily on re-ordering time as a means of suspense or at least holding viewer interest, as opposed to generating suspense by other means and linear story-telling. The tradeoff is that it creates some confusion and the constant thinking about what's going on undermines suspense and emotional involvement.
I thought that Alex Haw did a great job with his character, and that Theobald suitably conveyed his character's lack of place in the world and sense of self. Lucy Russell did a nice job as a kind of moll, but her part and character were not fully fleshed out.
Overall, this is a good neo-noir but not exceptional.