Taking place solely on a computer screen, Profile is a slow burn of a film that steadily ratchets up the intrigue and suspense, taking a unique genre of film into semi-true territory.
When a British journalist goes undercover to build a story about a terrorist recruiter, she ends up lured in by the man’s mission and charm, incrementally losing grip on her personal life as she becomes enthralled in her made-up persona. Director Timur Bekmambetov is no stranger to this format (he served as a producer on Searching), utilizing the full power of an Apple MacBook to tell this story based on true life events. Valene Kane and Shazad Latif carry the entire film on their backs and successfully so; both play off of one another rather flawlessly, pulling you into their budding relationship. Kane’s character is a bit tough to like here, having established herself as challenging and a bit selfish from the start (I warmed up to her as the film went on). Through the lenses of these two characters, Profile explores personal manipulation, purpose, and escape, even if it takes a bit to get there.
What is key in any of these films that utilize a computer screen or some other sort of technology-based storytelling is to not overstimulate the audience, but also to use the programs meaningfully. There is a scene in the latter parts of the film where Kane’s character goes to clear space from her computer in order to continue to record her calls withThe recruiter. She deletes a bunch of videos, including one of her and her boyfriend. This simple inclusion shows the character slowly slipping away from what she knew and propels the storytelling and character development forward. Other actions such as denying calls and typing and deleting messages similarly are used to smartly advance the plot.
All in all, Profile is an impactful piece of filmmaking that sheds light on something that we are all aware of, but likely know nothing about. Bekmambetov is a master of this format and somehow ensures that we don’t grow tired of it as the film progresses. Instead he forces you to the edge of your seat until the very final moments
Profile releases in theaters this Friday.
Photo from IndieWire