Synopsis: An older man listens to Bill's story about being a callow writer who likes to follow strangers around London, observing them. One day, a glib and self-confident man whom Bill has been following confronts him. He's Cobb, a burglar who takes Bill under his wing and shows him how to break and enter. They burgle a woman's flat; Bill gets intrigued with her (photographs are everywhere in her flat). He follows her and chats her up at a bar owned by her ex-boyfriend, a nasty piece of work who killed someone in her living room with a hammer. Soon Bill is volunteering to do her a favor, which involves a break-in. What does the older man know that Bill doesn't?
Director(s): Christopher Nolan
Production: IFC
  5 wins & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
69 min

[ Man ]

The following is my explanation--

well, more of an account...

of what happened.

I'd been on my own

for a while...

and getting kind of lonely...

and bored.

Nothing, still, all day.

And that's when

I started shadowing.

[ Man #2 ]


[ Man #1 ] Shadowing. Following.

I started to follow people.

- Who?

-Anyone at first.

[ Sniffing ]

I mean, that was the whole point--

somebody at random,

somebody who didn't know who I was.

And then?

-And then nothing.

- "Nothing?"

Nothing. I'd just see where

they went, what they did...

and go home afterwards.

Why'd you do it?

Um, to see where they went.

Anyone-- I mean--

How can I explain?

You ever, um,

been to a football match

just to let your eyes rise...

and go over--

drift across a crowd of people,

and then slowly start

to fix on one person?

And all of a sudden that person

isn't part of the crowd anymore.

- They've become an individual,

just like that.

-[ Snaps Fingers ]

This became irresistible.

- So you followed women?

- No, I didn't follow women.

It wasn't a sex thing.

I followed anybody.

I just wanted to see

where they went, what they did.

You were playing

secret agent?

No, I'm a writer.

Well, I want to be a writer anyway.

I was, um, gathering material

for my characters.

Well, to begin with.

After a while l, um, spotted

the dangers. I'd become hooked.

I had to start making up rules to,

um, just try and keep it under control.

Um, never follow people

for too long.

Don't follow women

down dark alleys after dark.

You know, stuff like that.

It was supposed to just be

completely random.

And when it stopped

being random,

that's when it started

to go wrong.

When I started... to follow people--

specific people,

when I selected

a person to follow,

that's when the trouble started.

Other people are interesting to me.

Have you never...

listened to other people's conversations

on the bus or on the tube?

Seen somebody on the street that

looks interesting or is behaving...

slightly-- oddly

or something like that?

Wondered what their lives

involved, what they do,

where they come from,

where they go to?

[ Coughing ]

[ Typewriter Keys Clacking ]

You watch somebody's behavior, and

it raises a hundred thousand questions,

and... I wanted

to ask those questions,

and I wanted to know

what the answers were,

and so I'd follow people

to try and find out.

Most important rule was...

that even if I found out where

somebody worked or where they lived,

then you'd never follow

the same person twice.

That was the most

important rule.

That was the one

that I broke first.

- [ Woman ] Yes?

- Uh, coffee, please.

- Come on. It's lunch.

- Toasted cheese sandwich is fine.

Mind if I join you?


Who am I?

- Uh, yeah, I'll have

a black coffee, please, and...

- Nothing.

[ Sniffs ]

another coffee, black.

You're obviously not

a policeman, so who are you,

and why are you following me?

I'm sorry. I don't know

what you're talking about.

Don't piss me about.

Who the f*** are you?

Thank you very much.


[ Stirring Continues ]

No, I wasn't--

I wasn't following you. l-- l--

I saw you with your bag. I just

thought you looked interesting.

- What are you, a f*ggot?

- No, no. [ Scoffs ]

No, l-- To tell you the truth,

I thought you were this guy

that I was at school with.

I saw you walk in here, so I followed

you in just to see if it was him.

-But it wasn't.

-Why didn't you ask me when you saw me?

'Cause I'd have been embarrassed

if it wasn't the person.

- Not as embarrassed as you are now.

- No, I suppose not.

- What's your name?

- Bill.

Well, Bill, what do you do?

- Actually, I'm kind of--

- Between jobs right now,yeah.

- Yeah, that's right.

- What would you do?

- Don't know.

- Oh, come on, Bill, don't be coy.

There's some burning ambition

inside you, isn't there?

- Something of a starving artist

in you, no? No?

- No.

- No. No.

- You're a painter.

- Photos? Writer?

- No. No.

- Writer, eh?

- No.

- But you write?

- Not much.

- But sometimes?

- Sometimes. Who doesn't?


So you're a writer.

I didn't say that.

What makes you think

I'm a writer anyway?

An unemployed twenty-something

fancies himself a writer.

- A real leap into the unknown.

- Well, I'm not a writer.

- But you're interested in people.

- Yeah.

- This person?

- Perhaps.

You haven't even asked me

my name yet.

- What's your name?

- Or what's in my bag.

- What bag?

- My bag.

The one you've been

looking at all morning.

What's your name,

and what's in your bag?

My name's Cobb.

Take a look for yourself.

What were you expecting, drugs?

Why'd you nick their old CDs?

Easy to grab a load, easy to sell,

totally untraceable.

The other stuff's

a bit more tricky.

You don't look like

a burglar.

Sounds like a compliment.

Are you interested now?

[ Doorbell Rings ]


[Whispering ]

People don't really do that, do they?

You'd be surprised.

Does that really work?

Wait and see.

Beginner's luck.

See, nobody home.

Okay, first things first.

- We need a bag.

- [Whispering Continues ] "A bag?"

To carry the stuff in.

Why are you whispering?

- Do you have one of your own?

- Yeah.

It's a big bag with "swag"

written right across it.

Ah. Bingo!

Okay. What do you fancy?

Nothing here of any value.

- You don't seem that concerned.

Why do you do it?

Rate this script:2.3 / 4 votes

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Edward Nolan (born 30 July 1970) is an English-American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the highest-grossing directors in history, and among the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of the 21st century. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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