PROFANE (2011)Label: Artvamp
Duration: 78 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Director: Usama Alshaibi
Cast: Manal Kara, Molly Plunk, Dejan Mircea
Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi's film Profane (2011) is advertised as a psychedelic glimpse into the world of a young Muslim Dominatrix in the midst of a spiritual crisis and that about sums it up nicely. We have a twenty-something young woman named Muna (Manal Kara) who is a Muslim dominatrix living in Chicago and when she's not smacking genitalia with the business end of a riding-prod she's going through a bit of a spiritual crisis. Shot docu-style the film introduces us to her dominatrix friends as they exchange scatological stories, smoke weed and ride around the city in a cab looking for food and fun and fulfillment.
Spurred by a conversations with a devout Muslim cabdriver she seeks her spiritual self but struggles with her faith and an empty sexual relationship with her boyfriend who craves more friendship and less fucking which she finds that hard to do, preferring instead to fill the void with more emptiness. Furthermore she suffers from disembodied voices speaking to her which may or may not belong to a demonic presence called a Jinn.
There's a fair amount of arthouse pretension on hand with blurry close-ups, scattered editing and a somewhat non-linear story punctuated by scenes of what appears to be an exorcism - at times it feels like a film school senior project and that's okay but as a cohesive film it failed to come together for me.
While the story is a bit piece meal the imagery is oftentimes quite interesting with a steady stream of spiritual and surreal erotic imagery, it definitely creates a specific atmosphere from time to time but lacks cohesion. I think it's entirely possible the material would have resonated with me if I understood the Muslim a bit faith more.
Highlights for me were the low-budget psychedelia and sexual imagery with kinky scenarios involving a riding-prod and geniality, strap-on fun and rope bondage and whatnot but at the end of the day it failed to connect with me with the exception of some superficial titillation but the spiritual journey didn't work for me. 2 Outta 5.