The profile oversimplifies modern anxieties about online manipulation

For a thriller, Profile really only achieves one thing: to be as grating as possible. And that’s not entirely a negative review – it evokes a very contemporary anxiety about online manipulation.

Director Timur Bekmambetov produced the Without friend movies and Research, all of which were designed to appear as though they had been recorded entirely through a computer screen. Adaptation of the non-fictitious account of the French writer Anna Erelle on her infiltration in the plans of the EI to recruit European women, Profile changes the setting to London.

But ProfileThe focus is on his nervous mood. We’re always 30 seconds away from a new video call or other electronic buzz, not to mention the needle drops of cranky covers of “Get Lucky” and “Creep,” sung by women – a rather cliché these days. As Without friend, Profile is told entirely through screens – and video images made on and for them. As a movie, it plays smaller than life, although it successfully portrays a sort of Extremely Online mood, in which the attention span is completely frayed because three important (or seemingly important, anyway) things. way) occur simultaneously. Profile captures what it feels like when a friend calls you on your phone while you are in the middle of a Zoom session with another.

Trying to advance in her career, Amy (Valene Kane) gives her boss Vicky (Christine Adams) a TV report about her efforts to incite ISIS to attempt to radicalize her via Facebook and Skype. Amy is creating a new Facebook character named Melody Nelson with a simple profile claiming that she has just converted to Islam and is starting to interact with Islamist videos and comments. Bilel (Shazad Latif), a Pakistani-British currently fighting in Syria, contacted her almost immediately. He’s handsome and charming, but he ignores any warning signs that she really doesn’t know anything about Islam and tries to trick him. Instead, he invites her to join him in Syria during their second video chat.

If the film puts more emphasis on character development, this turn of events might be more plausible. Instead, it turns into an unlikely and downright incredible love story. In a first scene, the audience sees an email from Amy’s bank reminding them that she has a low balance. Not content with this allusion to the desperate state of his finances, the film later shows us the many messages from his owner about his debt. However, she jumps from paranoia about Arabs and Muslims – breaking away when she learns that her TV channel’s tech support assistant Lou (Amir Rahimzadeh) is British-Syrian – to Bilel’s infatuation in just a few days. While Bilel is obviously not good, Latif’s performance skillfully conveys Bilel’s grooming expertise and ability to activate charisma. Even so, it never seems enough to change the life of an adult woman with no attraction to Daesh or no real interest in Middle Eastern politics.

In his heart, Profile expresses a timeless racist fear of the seduction of white women by men of color, modernized by European Islamophobia and anxieties about online culture. Of course, the radicalization of women – and men – online by Daesh is a real problem. But Profile is not interested in the reasons for this problem, which are a little deeper than falling in love with hot recruiters. The film appears to be impressed with its own technical virtuosity, although it uses the same basic style of Without friend while making its possibilities appear much more limited.

Profile expresses something real about how we can fall into the trap of others’ online projections of themselves, but the political context is just a trap.

About Edward Fries

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