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"Why are you following me?"
The plot concerns a young, unemployed writer who takes to following random strangers through the streets of London, ostensibly seeking inspiration for stories. He sets rules to keep this low-level stalking from going too far, but quickly breaks these rules upon discovering that his latest subject is a burglar. The burglar, one Mr. Cobb, confronts the writer; recognizing him as an impressionable soul, Cobb suggests the writer accompany him on his next break-in.
Cobb is rather philosophical about his profession: he doesn't burglarize for the money, but for the thrill of invading others' privacy and the intellectual interest of learning about the lives of complete strangers from their possessions. He justifies his thefts and petty vandalism by stating that this forces his victims to reevaluate their own lives. The writer tries to remain an aloof observer, but Cobb's voyeurism draws him in--into a relationship with a blonde model (one of Cobb's victims), a Blackmail plot, and a very nasty triple-cross.
"Why would you want to fuck up their example list?"\\
"You take it away, to show them what they had."
"They probably just misplaced the examples..."
- Anachronic Order: Used to keep the audience in the dark about the blonde's and Cobb's real motivations, just like the writer was. The bulk of the film is a flashback related by the writer to a police detective. Within that flashback, three streams (originating at the beginning, the one-third point, and the two-thirds point of the story) run concurrently.
- Batman Gambit : If one considers that a few minor details could've made the whole thing fall apart.
- Beardness Protection Program: At Cobb's suggestion, the writer shaves his beard and changes his whole appearance to avoid being recognized by a witness.
- Black and Grey Morality
- Blackmail: But not by the person you think is pulling it.
- Break-In Threat: Sometimes Cobb doesn't take anything, but just goes through keepsakes and makes sure the people there know it, in order to disrupt their lives.
- Covert Pervert: During their theft of the blonde's apartment, Cobb and the writer steal some of her underwear.
- Criminal Doppelganger
- Drop the Hammer: Several characters are strong believers in the use of ordinary hardware hammers as weapons of self-defense, torture, or murder.
- Evil Plan: Stalking for story inspiration doesn't sound evil but it does get the plot in motion and lead to the other plans.
- Fall Guy: Ultimately, the plot boils down to a very elaborate scheme to set up a semi-innocent man to take the fall for a crime that has not yet been committed.
- Femme Fatale: The blonde.
- Film Noir
- Foreshadowing: In one scene, you can see a Batman logo on a door.
- Gentleman Thief
- Karma Houdini: Cobb.
- No Budget: The budget was about $6000; Nolan said that, even for a low-budget shoot, the production was "extreme".
- Nameless Narrative: The characters' names are not revealed, except for, Cobb and that may or may not be a pseudonym; the writer alternately gives his name as Bill or Daniel, but he's just listed in the credits as "the young man".
- One-Book Author: Cobb is actor Alex Haw's one and only film credit, though he gives a good performance.
- In fact most of the stars were friends of Nolan's who had steady day jobs and would more-or-less disappear into them, making brief appearances in Batman Begins before fading into obscurity.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivered by the blonde to the writer.
- Shout-Out: The writer has a Batman logo prominently displayed on his apartment door. (This was actor Jeremy Theobald's actual apartment, so it's unknown if he or Nolan put the logo there.) Hilarious in Hindsight, considering the films Nolan would go on to direct.
- The Spook: Cobb.
- Stalker Without a Crush
- Stalker with a Crush, as far as the Blonde is concerned.
- Troll: Cobb. He steals one of the blonde's earrings and leaves the other behind just to screw with her
- Unwitting Pawn: The writer, and the blonde.
- Wicked Cultured: Cobb.