Film Review: Profile

Review By Frances Winston

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov – Starring: Valene Kane, Shazad Latif, Christine Adams, Amir Rahimzadeh, , Morgan Watkins, Emma Cater

In cinemas now!

Based on the true story, In The Skin of a Jihadist, written by French journalist, Anna Erelle, this transports the action from France to the UK, and Anna becomes Amy (Kane).

She is a struggling freelancer who is living from advance to advance, rather than pay check to pay check, and is somewhat jaded when she sets up fake social media profiles to try and attract recruiters for ISIS, in order to investigate their process.

It doesn’t take long until her alter-ego, Melody, connects with Baliel (Latif) who is keen to get to know her better. In no time at all, he is declaring undying love, and trying to get her to join him in Syria. As she gets to know him better, she struggles to separate her real life from her new persona, and she quickly finds herself sucked into the very networks she’s investigating.

Profile tells the story through Facebook posts, video chats, internet searches, emails, and messages. This is a trope that has been used before, but personally, after 16 months of video chats and online existence thanks to Coronavirus restrictions, I honestly struggled with this artistic choice.

I should point out that the film was actually first shown in 2018, as part of the Berlin Film Festival, so at the time the idea probably worked. However, I think a lot of us are very jaded by online interactions at the moment.

That aside, Kane gives a great performance as Amy. Thanks to the multiple simultaneous calls and windows her character employs, we can see her effortlessly jump between the breezy Amy and the easily influenced Melody. Unfortunately, the plot becomes ludicrous as the story progresses, but having not read the book, I can’t comment on whether or not the real-life story took similar tangents.

Profile runs out of steam long before the end, and I do feel it would have benefitted from a more traditional filming style. There are too many contrived moments employed to keep the story ‘online’, which completely take you out of the story.

Erelle’s original idea to investigate these groups was a good one, and it is honestly scary to see how easily the targeted girls are influenced by the malevolent men who seek them out online.

Unfortunately, the original reasons for telling this story get somewhat lost along the way. This movie suffers from the storytelling approach used, which is a shame, as it could have been a wonderful tool for raising awareness.

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