ALT | Altered States
Posing as a disaffected Muslim convert named Melody who’s flirting with the idea of turning teen jihadi war bride, a struggling British journalist named Amy (Valene Kane) employs social media and Skype to entrap Bilel (Shazad Latif), an ISIS recruiter, in hopes of securing a lucrative exposé that can help belatedly launch her career. Instead, she finds the need to constantly evolve her cover story and improvise on the fly having debilitating effects on her own self-image, which grows increasingly amorphous.
With a laptop screen serving as the sole claustrophobic stage for this high-stakes masquerade and ensuing game of catfish and mouse, Timur Bekmambetov transforms innocuous search engines and chat windows into the stuff of nerve-fraying suspense. And while no one expects a precise, Fincher-like procedural from the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Profile demonstrates unsettling verisimilitude as it investigates the perils that lay in wait only a click away.
"Gripping and eye-opening… Thrillingly topical… The relationship between "Melody" and "Bilel" (also an assumed name) shows the slippery nature of performed online identities, the leveraging of personal grievances into political/terrorist action, and how the immense scale of social media can essentially collectivize and weaponize alienation and anger from around the world into real world terror."—Joe Blessing, Playlist
Audience Award, Panorama, Berlin 18; Audience Award, Visions, SXSW 18