There are moments in Christopher Nolan's thematically ambitious film noir that make you wish he had the time and money and, to a certain degree, talent, to fulfill his lofty goals. [11 Feb 2000, p.C9]
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What are critics saying?
Climactic triple-cross is a satisfying payoff, though scenarist-helmer Nolan doesn’t really sock across any possible point of emphasis – black humor is soft-pedaled, suspense just middling, and the character writing keeps classic fall guy Bill a bit too blank-slate to incur much sympathy.
Christopher Nolan's noirish thriller is an uncommonly polished and assured feature debut, highly clever textually and supremely accomplished technically. This ultra low-budget exercise marks the emergence of a significant directorial talent. [13 April 1999]
The usual elements of scheming and deception are well represented here, but they are made all the knottier by shifting time frames.
As a psychological mystery it plays persuasively if not profoundly. Nolan relishes the sheer nastiness he keeps stirred up, unabated for 70 minutes. You can, too, provided you don't ask more of it.
Unnerving and occasionally witty, were it not for its weak third act, Nolan's film might fall just short of genius. As it is, though, it's unique nonetheless.
Following is modest and engaging, but in being strenuously clever, it surrenders any dibs it might have on being relevant, or original.
That the movie succeeds as thoroughly as it does -- getting deeper and creepier as it goes along -- is evidence of a far-seeing creative imagination. Nolan is a compelling new talent.