Perplexity and Burstiness: Timur Bekmambetovâ€™s Profile
A Cautionary Tale of the Dark Side of the Internet
The internet, a double-edged sword, proves to be both a valuable tool and a dangerous platform in Timur Bekmambetov’s latest film, Profile. In today’s digital age, we are constantly warned about the risks of online interactions, particularly for vulnerable individuals like teenagers. We’re repeatedly reminded that people are not always who they appear to be, as anyone on the other side of a screen can easily fabricate a different persona. Inspired by a true story, Profile delves into the terrifying consequences that unfold when one intentionally ventures into the abyss of social media.
The movie centers around Amy Whittaker, a desperate British freelance journalist portrayed by Valene Kane (known for her role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Facing impending work and housing rent deadlines, Amy resorts to Facebook as a last-ditch effort to meet her obligations. To gather crucial information for a risky investigative story, she creates a fake account and adopts a false identity, plunging headfirst into the perilous world of a militant group. Unknowingly, she attracts the attention of Abu Bilel Al-Britani (played by Shazad Latif from Star Trek: Discovery), an actual terrorist recruiter. Amy’s quest for the truth becomes a dangerous game of cat and mouse as she attempts to expose the organization’s online recruitment methods.
The Screenlife Format: Bekmambetov’s Signature Style
Profile is not Bekmambetov’s first foray into the unique format he dubs “Screenlife.” This innovative approach involves crafting a film that entirely unfolds through the protagonists’ computer screens, granting viewers an intimate window into their personal lives. In 2012, Bekmambetov produced Unfriended, a supernatural horror film that became a surprise box office hit despite its micro-budget of $1 million. Its success paved the way for a sequel and the chilling thriller Searching. Profile now follows in the footsteps of these screen-bound siblings, immersing audiences in the dangerous predicament faced by Amy.
However, the screen-based storytelling style of Profile may take some getting used to. While it captivates those who adapt to its unconventional approach, it may deter others. Once acclimated, viewers find themselves deeply entangled in Amy’s treacherous web. Valene Kane’s engaging portrayal of Amy embodies the character’s boldness, ambition, and flawed humanity. Amy’s mistakes and vulnerability make her relatable, allowing the audience to sympathize with her harrowing circumstances. As she risks her life to uncover the truth, her relationship with her boyfriend Matt (Morgan Watkins) and her personal motivations are tested.
Real-Life Implications: The Power of Profile
One may question whether Amy’s pursuit of this story stems from a desire to inform the public or purely for personal gain. However, the real-life counterpart of Amy ultimately demonstrated selflessness by making her story public in 2014. This courageous act led to the arrest of six individuals involved in Jihadi recruitment networks. The consequences of her actions were so significant that the police advised her to change her name and address for her own safety.
Kane and Latif’s standout performances are the pillars of Profile’s success. Despite never sharing physical space, their distinct portrayals carry the film from beginning to end. Latif masterfully embodies Abu Bilel Al-Britani, a charismatic and deceptive antagonist who manipulates not only Amy but the audience as well. Kane, however, shines as Amy, navigating a rollercoaster of emotions and emerging transformed by her experiences. The supporting cast effectively serves as the audience’s perspective, highlighting the sheer madness of the situation Amy finds herself in.
An Immersive but Flawed Format
While the Screenlife format initially immerses viewers, it comes with limitations. The film’s intensity rarely grants moments to breathe amid Amy’s Skype meetings with Bilel. Occasional scenes provide glimpses into Amy’s personal life and reflections on the madness she has entangled herself in, but these moments are scarce. Consequently, the transition between Amy’s single-minded focus on extracting information and her fleeting moments of protectiveness towards Bilel feels abrupt.
Despite the film’s basis in a true story, viewers may question how easily Amy falls for Bilel’s lies, given her professional background as a journalist and his status as a known terrorist recruiter. While Profile inevitably amplifies certain aspects for dramatic effect, it raises valid concerns about believability and character choices.
A Gripping Thriller with a Dwindling Momentum
Profile successfully maintains intrigue for the majority of its runtime. However, as the third act unfolds, the film begins to drag, leaving viewers eagerly awaiting its conclusion. The thrilling tone gradually shifts into an almost melodramatic atmosphere, diminishing the impact. Though the film briefly recaptures interest in its closing minutes, it abruptly ends without a satisfying resolution, leaving a sense of emptiness.
Nevertheless, if you enjoy films like Unfriended and Searching and seek an exhilarating thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, Profile may be worth your time. It is important to remember that not every aspect of the film reaches the heights of its promising first act, and connecting with the visual and technical aspects is crucial for a fulfilling experience.
Profile serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the perils concealed within the vast expanse of the internet. Bekmambetov’s Screenlife approach thrusts viewers into the treacherous world of Amy Whittaker, a journalist who unwittingly becomes entangled with a dangerous terrorist recruiter. Valene Kane and Shazad Latif deliver standout performances despite their limited on-screen interaction. While Profile has its flaws, including pacing issues and occasional lapses in believability, it remains a gripping and thought-provoking thriller that explores the dangers of online deception and manipulation.
1. Is Profile based on a true story?
Yes, Profile is inspired by a true story. It sheds light on the risks associated with online interactions and the consequences faced by individuals who intentionally explore the dark side of the internet.
2. How does the Screenlife format enhance the viewing experience?
The Screenlife format immerses viewers by presenting the story entirely through the protagonists’ computer screens. This approach provides a unique perspective, allowing audiences to witness the events unfold from the characters’ personal spaces and fostering a heightened sense of connection.
3. What sets Profile apart from other films in the Screenlife genre?
Profile distinguishes itself by tackling a subject matter rooted in real-life implications. It delves into the world of terrorist recruitment and the dangers lurking on social media platforms. This gripping exploration of online deception sets Profile apart from other films within the Screenlife genre.
4. Does Profile offer a satisfying conclusion?
Profile’s conclusion may leave some viewers longing for more closure. While the film ties up certain narrative threads, it purposefully leaves certain aspects unresolved, contributing to a lingering sense of unease.
5. Who should watch Profile?
Profile appeals to fans of suspenseful thrillers and individuals intrigued by the unique approach of the Screenlife format. However, it is worth noting that viewers must be able to connect with the film’s visual and technical elements to fully appreciate the viewing experience.