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The Platform Movie Review

by Robert Cain 3 years ago in movie review
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This unique and claustrophobic sci-fi flick offers some strong allegories for human nature

Released: 6th September 2019 (TIFF, just released on Netflix)

Length: 94 Minutes

Certificate: 18

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Starring: Iván Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan and Emilio Buale Coka

Science fiction films can often vary in scale; some offer vast and expansive worlds; others take place in a more closed environment. Falling under the latter destination, The Platform is an intriguing entry from Spain that makes good use of allegorical trappings.

In an unnamed future, our protagonist Goreng (Ivan Massague) wakes up in a strange prison; arranged in a tower format, prisoners are fed from a platform that lowers down the centre periodically. Due to being on a lower level of the tower, he is forced to get by on scraps with much of the food already being consumed on the upper levels. With the older Trimgasi (Zorion Eguileor) as his cell mate, Goreng aims to cheat the system and generate enough food for every floor beneath them. In a metaphorical sense, The Platform is about what humans do when they’re put in a desperate situation and the effect it has on others; the tower prison itself is an experiment, designed to test one’s sanity until it snaps. Combined with a set of well-established rules, this creates an element of unpredictability; you’ll be wondering where Goreng will wake up next and who he will encounter. On top of this, the intense psychological strain is a constant presence; the lack of something substantial to eat and the endless boredom eating away at the inmates. It’s certainly a grotty vision of the future and the narrative pushes forward well, making use of montages to avoid dragging the pace. On occasion, we do see the top floor of the prison in which food is produced for the prisoners below, though these moments are fleeting and have little connection to the floors below, making them feel insignificant to the bigger picture.

With a relatively small cast in The Platform, the main characters we see are generally very well done. Whether it’s the brutality in the cells or his inner thoughts, Massague always gives us a great window into Goreng’s struggle. We see his inner thoughts, the things he misses on the outside and the lengths he’ll go to beat his captors. On the other side of the room, Trimgasi’s darker side slowly comes to the forefront and as the story goes on, he becomes a source of temptation, watching over Goreng throughout the film. For all the tension going on in the background, the characters, despite being well performed, don’t have a lot of depth to them. Following the rule of prisoners being moved between floors every day is a double-edged sword as we don’t get as much time for character development. For example, there’s an elusive woman named Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) riding the platform down to the bottom of the hole, but there’s no real payoff or reveal to her character.

The basic plot of The Platform fuels an even simpler layout and setup; our characters are confined to a single, sterile floor with the only notable element being the hole in the middle of each cell. This allows us the audience to easily understand the premise and keep track of every character as they descend deeper into the prison. We feel the claustrophobia and danger of the setting, yet the film is always very concise in its editing; the passage of time is handled efficiently and the film swaps between reality and the character’s imagination without any jarring transitions. The sense of immersion is further enhanced by the atmosphere; grey and gritty lighting is traded for ambient reds at several points. There’s also a strong variety of environmental storytelling as well, with the often gruesome results of the prison displayed all over the floor and walls as we journey through it. The Platform is a bloody, unrelenting film and by not holding back, it emphasises the barbarism humans can stoop to. The music is mostly sombre at first, showing the creeping passage of time, before later opening up into a rousing action-focused mix as Goreng puts his plan into motion. All around, the film makes great use of its more limited setting.

As an allegory for the darker echelons of human nature and social class, The Platform makes a high impression with its presentation and simple premise; though other aspects, particularly character depth, are somewhat lacking. Be that as it may, it’s a unique experiment that stands out from the crowd, maintaining some intrigue to make it worth a watch.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Good)

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About the author

Robert Cain

I'm a well-travelled blogger and writer from the UK who is looking to spread his blogs and freelance writings further afield. You can find more of my work at https://robc25.wixsite.com/thecainagecritique.

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