Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Written by David Desola and Pedro Rivero
Starring: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay
The world is on fire.
For those of you living under a rock, lo these last six months, we’re in the midst of a pandemic and quite possibly at the beginning of the collapse of our social and economic structures. A lot of it, we’ve brought on ourselves. We had a system that was initially designed to work for everyone. Over time, it got abused. Instead of raising a flag or working to fix it, we let it continue on: those on top got the best of everything, those in the middle made due and those at the bottom… well, they just had to do whatever they had to do to survive.
The world is “The Platform”.
We are introduced to Goreng (Ivan Massagué) and his cellmate, Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). Goreng has voluntarily been admitted to this prison for six months in order to get an accredited diploma. Trimagasi got angry at his television and threw it out a window, killing a passerby. That’s why he’s there.
The pair are on level 46. Not a bad level to be on, as Trimagasi explains, because the titular platform lowers food once daily. The closer to the top you are, the better you eat, The further away, the less likely that there’s anything left. Every month, you get moved to a different floor. You could get much closer. You could get much further.
Much, MUCH further.
The debut feature from Spanish director Gaztelu-Urrutia, “The Platform” presents religious allegory as social commentary… or maybe vice versa. From it’s opening shots – an opulent meal being carefully crafted by a team of chefs with an elderly overseer scrutinizing the details – my first thoughts went to The Creation (We’ll use the biblical creation myth in this case since it more lends itself to a crafted creation as opposed to a birthed creation). Beautiful and perfect, it only awaits human interaction. As anyone can tell you, that’s rarely a good idea.
Conversely, it could be more secularly viewed as commentary on the world as it is now. Despite the best efforts of assorted partisans and bureaucrats, the system that’s supposed to take care of everyone is deeply flawed because the one’s overseeing it have no idea how it works in reality, only how they think it should work because they’ve never experienced it.
However you want to interpret it, Gaztelu-Urrutia creates a spartan, dystopian alternative now or maybe it’s an unfortunate future. We don’t know much as we’re only shown only slivers of the world that exists outside of the character’s cells. Much more telling, though, are the character’s interaction. Massagué’s Goreng is what passes as the movie’s naive Everyman who believes that six months in prison is no great sacrifice to get a diploma. Timagasi is our guide through the prison hellscape where fortunes can change dramatically, literally, overnight. They are our Dante and Virgil leading us through all the sins a man can commit in the name of “That’s just how it is.” Massagué’s transformation from idealist to pragmatist to activist to believer is the engine that drives the movie and he powers it well. Eguileor is also strong as the psychotic angel on our shoulder who, on the one hand, tries to nurture and teach us, but on the other hand says sometimes you have to eat your own leg to survive. Also on this journey, we also meet Baharat (Emilio Buale), who wants to ascend to escape, Miharu (though I don’t think here name in mentioned in the film, played by Alexandra Masangkay), a mysterious woman who sometimes travels between floors seeking her missing child and Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), as a bureaucrat who descends into the Hole (as the inmates call it) to see the system at work. Supporting performances all around are very good.
“The Platform” plumbs the depths of our societal issues… or examines the nature of a created universe with an absentee creator… or shows us how far we will go to survive and how far we might go to make things better. Maybe it’s all of these things.