The premiere of "Profile" took place at the Berlinale in February Timur Bekmabetov, another film shot by Bazelevs on a laptop screen. The translation is correct - I mean, of course, the genre of journalism, not a Facebook profile. Then only a few Russian film critics were able to watch the tape, but, fortunately, the situation was corrected by the Moscow International Film Festival. We tell you whether the director really managed to come up with a new film language and how such films captivate the modern viewer.
London-based journalist Amy promised the harsh editor Vicki a TV story about how special recruiters are inviting women to join ISIS. Amy thinks about a pseudonym, deciding not to add "Umm" (translated from Arabic for "mother" in Arabic) to the name, as if obligatory for the future wives of terrorists, and uses "Melody Nelson" - for her luck, Serge's song was played on iTunes Gainsbourg. Then he makes several reposts on Facebook from the page of a girl who, a couple of months ago, was famous for her acoustic covers on Radiohead and make-up tutorials, and now wears a hijab in Syria and walks with a Kalashnikov, and the smiling bearded Abu Bilel almost immediately contacted her. He says that he just moved to Syria from London, offers to call on Skype, sends cats in the messenger and generally seems like a charming guy. The fact that it is precisely in this charm that the success of his work lies, Amy finds out rather late.
The plot of "Profile" can be played in different ways, but Timur Bekmambetov chose the one that is closest to him now: after the success of the horror "Remove from Friends", he became convinced that the screen life genre he invented has a right to exist. Now, according to the director, seven films have already been shot - three more are "Search" with John Chow about the disappearance of his daughter, the second part "Remove from Friends" and the rom-com "I Like"; the remaining two are not yet reported. "Profile" is still the only one shot personally by Bekmambetov - it has already been noticed that this may be due to the fact that the topic of the war has been of interest to him for a long time, starting with the debut scripts and films. Then it was a war in Afghanistan, now - in Syria, but three and a half years separate us from the heroes. In "Profile" this time difference is shown flawlessly.
The end of 2014: you can't call on Facebook yet, the editors of various publications are on Skype instead of slack, stickers are unpopular, they listen to music on iTunes and many people find it easier to call on FaceTime - the spirit of the times in the film is captured very accurately. When Bekmambetov says that designers are not important for their work, but for social networks, he is not dissembling: for the apartment of the main character, perhaps only its location is important, while what she listens to and looks at on YouTube is much more important - from the well-known Pixies hit before the cover of Daughter on Daft Punk and "Boiler Room" by Hauschka. All these small details - as well as the fact that Amy has to use the help of an IT specialist from the editorial office to record the call - make it possible to get to know the heroine almost better than if she told her thoughts for an hour and a half. Dodging and lying in dialogues, empathy shown through the webcam, and deleted messages at the wrong time - all this reveals the character and quickly turns on empathy.
End of 2014: no phone calls on Facebook yet, editorial offices of various publications are sitting
on Skype instead of slack, stickers are unpopular, music is listened to in iTunes
and it's easier for many to call
Perhaps because of the novelty of his style, Bekmambetov is able to work with such techniques that would seem vulgar in an ordinary feature film: at the moment when Amy begins to really empathize with her interlocutor, she turns on "Where Is My Mind?" - and it inspires delight instead of rolling your eyes.The scene of the bombing in Syria and how Amy reacts to it would be much less impressive and perhaps more feigned if it were not shown on a computer screen, which you quickly begin to mistake for your own.
A lot is done for authenticity: the calls are successful only when the editor calls Amy on a good Wi-Fi, but when Billel from Syria tries to do it, the image twitches, glitches, jams (this is even an amazing episode with jumpscair, one of the most obvious horror -films). Messages are written in a hurry, with "7" instead of "?", Something is shamefacedly erased or deleted - approximately the same way everyone else does it every day. Simply transferring the story to the MacBook screen would not have worked so well if it hadn't been really painstakingly recreated - both in terms of authenticity of behavior on the Web in general, and in terms of time and place.
Before the screening, Bekmambetov admits that he does not yet understand how to translate the film into Russian: in addition to interfaces and messages, in his opinion, things that provide context need to be transferred to local soil. This, of course, raises concerns - lest Melody Nelson turn into Sveta Sokolova. The "Profile" may require adaptation, but on the whole there were no difficulties in transferring to the Moscow International Film Festival, although the film went without subtitles: simply because the authors do not fully understand yet how to make these same subtitles. Sometimes because of this, you have to strain your eyes too much: not all halls are designed to read the Facebook message from the last row, despite the careful zoom. Such nuances remind that Bekmambetov and his team are still working on the intricacies of the genre, but so far this movement is by touch - albeit in the right direction.
The film also plays into the hands of the fact that it is based on the non-fiction book I Was a Jihadist by French journalist Anna Erel. Most likely, it is precisely such methods of retelling that correspond to the time that are needed in real stories - thanks to the huge monitor screen, everything becomes much more tangible. The screen life technique reveals what no acting game could convey, even if these are the most ordinary things that we do every day: the emotions of the heroes are shown through Skype and FaceTime windows, a selfie in underwear or a video opened in the editor. The most biting lines become Skype messages, and the climactic scene is a mixture of talking on video, messaging friends and buying a plane ticket. Thanks to the desktop narrative, the unreliability of the narrator becomes more noticeable, because it is she who runs everything here: this is her story, and only she determines what to tell the viewer and what to keep for herself. But this is good - it seems that in modern cinema this is freedom unprecedented for a character.