Profile Movie Review
Written by Ali Chappell
Released by Bazelez Entertainment
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Written by Britt Poulton
2018, 105 minutes, Not Rated
Released on March 11th, 2018
Valene Kane as Amy/Melody
Shazad Latif as Bilel
Profile is screenlife that makes sense. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, don’t worry, you are not alone. Director Timur Bekmambetov coined this term, but you can see it used in a number of different films like Unfriended and the other Unfriended and soon to be my new favorite film, Searching, starring John Cho. Basically, the whole movie is a computer screen, so everything happens on a desktop, usually a MacBook, and you don’t actually see any actors outside of the webcam.
This article contains spoilers, but it is also based on a true story of Anna Erelle (read the real story here) that happened in real life a few years ago. So, am I realllllly spoiling anything if you don’t read a newspaper every once in a while? Yeah, thought so.
Profile is based on a true story about a young journalist named Amy who goes undercover on Facebook as a young girl named Melody to become a Jihad bride and learn about the human trafficking problems within the Middle East regarding ISIS. She immediately meets Bilel, a Jihad recruiter, who quickly takes to her and they instantly begin having daily chats over Skype. She convinces him that she wants to become a Jihad bride but is nervous and wants to know more and understand how it all works. Bilel every day without fail has these Skype calls with her, sometimes he is playing soccer with his friends, other times he is in his office and in one particularly adorable moment, they both cook a meal together over Skype. The scary part of this film is you can feel her start to have real emotions for this man. You know he plans on selling her to the highest bidder the moment she steps off the plane, but still, you hope that there is some romance in there.
Throughout their relationship her personal life begins to fall apart, her job is constantly on the line, she can barely afford to pay her bills, her relationship with her fiancé is struggling. Yet, Bilel is convincing; I mean, hell, I might even fall for it right up until he said I had to pay for my own ticket there, then I would be out. I am too poor for that nonsense. On one particular call, she witnesses a bombing that Bilel is involved in. She assumes he is dead as days go by without contact. She even accidentally posts to her own Facebook page that the love of her life is dead. Yeah, she is effed. Of course her fiancé isn't exactly thrilled about this whole thing and obviously leaves her. Turns out Bilel isn’t dead and she is ecstatic about that. Finally she decides that it’s time for her to go to and meet him in real life; she wants to know how these girls are smuggled in. It all becomes too real when she arrives in Turkey and gets someone to translate a call he makes for her where he clearly states that he’s sending another girl across the border to be sold. She is smart and get’s the fuck out of dodge and back to London.
Bilel is obviously mad because she is about to post a huge exposé that basically spells out how everything there is done and uses everything he has told her against him. He threatens her with a fatwa, which if you have never read a newspaper is basically a ruling in Islamic law given by someone of authority. This could mean, if you do wrong against them, then they can send out a death threat to EVERYONE in their control to find you. Anywhere in the world. Terrifying. SO anywhere you go, someone might kill you. Which is so messed up, but because of her journalism, six people were arrested and countless lives were saved. That part is true, the real one behind this story is a hero. Both actors are amazing with the limitations they are forced to work with, but they make it work and it’s powerful.
Happy endings all around. Now sit down, I need to talk about screenlife and why it sucks. I work as a freelance writer. I spend hours a day on my computer. Want to know what I don’t want to do in a movie theatre? Stare at a computer. They even add in things like buffering or random pop up notifications, you know, all the things that in real life that would annoy you are now on the big screen. It’s lazy. You basically just get two people to sit on Skype and talk to each other. The rest happens in post. Not exactly a thrilling and compelling way to make a movie or tell a story. Not to mention, you lose a connection between the actors when they are never actually able to touch each other or be in the same room. Have you ever talked to someone on Skype? It’s awkward and even if you have known the person forever, it’s awkward. But you can talk to that same person in real life and it’s wonderful because people connect more when they are together. Screenlife is very disconnecting to emotions and it drops the overall feel of the story. Plus, some of you mid-20-year-olds will relate to this. In high school, did you ever hang out with a friend and all you did was sit on a computer together and talk to people on MSN or look at Ebaums World to pass time because you're too young to drive and your older brother isn’t around to buy you booze? Imagine that boring after-school feeling but in movie form and you don’t get to participate at all. I’ll give it credit to this film though, because the true story itself takes places entirely on Skype. It makes sense. It doesn’t make it more interesting, it just makes sense as to why they did it this way.
I like this movie, but because I hate staring at my computer screen more than I have to, I doubt I’ll revisit it. It did however get me to go down the Reddit rabbit hole of Jihad Brides for a good four hours. Bonus points to them for making me learn.