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‘The Platform’ Review: An All-Out Challenge to Class and Capitalism

The horror/psychological thriller leans on the side of gory and uses hunger as an allegory for the human condition

Jessica Xalxo Mar 24, 2020

Alexandra Masangkay in 'The Platform.' Photo: Netflix

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★ ★ ★ ★ 

Six months in a prison with an item of your choosing. What could possibly go wrong? In Spanish filmmaker Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform (now on Netflix), the “Vertical Self-Management Center” or “the hole” as inmates call it brings all the prisoners to the table for two minutes every day. As the platform aka the proverbial table of plenty makes its way down the levels, food rations deplete. Everyone is taking what they want, there is no concept of need.

Helmed by the mysterious Administration, the hole houses both criminals and volunteers. The offenders serve their sentences while the participants walk away with a diploma at the end of their time. If the prison is a metaphor for capitalism, who is complicit? That’s what The Platform delves into during its one and half hour runtime. 

What director Gaztelu-Urrutia and writers David Desola and Pedro Rivero do particularly well in this horror/psychological thriller is unravel mystery and build suspense. As diploma go-getter Goreng (Ivan Massagué) serves each month of his prison stint in randomly selected levels over 180 days, we go to the very bottom of the pit while meeting the inmates and becoming acquainted with class and capitalism the way the makers see it.

Zorion Eguileor and Ivan Massagué in ‘The Platform.’ Photo: Netflix

The prisoners on the lower levels eat differently than the ones on the upper levels — if they eat at all — and the variances in their hunger drives the narrative. When cell-mate for the month (on level 48), aged murderer Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) tells Goreng, “The people above me are to blame,” The Platform has just begun to tear at the cinder blocks of an assimilated person’s psychology. Friends turn to foes as level 48 becomes 171 for the next 30 days but Goreng still holds on to his belief of the system as an individual. “You made me,” he tells Trimagasi, “I want you to know that I hold you responsible. Not the people above. Not the circumstances. Not even the administration. You.”

Zorion Eguileor in ‘The Platform.’ Photo: Netflix

The Platform keeps throwing ethical curveballs at viewers, setting the film’s pace to a well-timed dance of psychology, ethics and paranoia as the serrating, honest and clean-cut dialogue moves the action forward just as much as the imprisoned’s circumstances. Every inmate is different but as hunger drives the machinery of Goreng’s world, the prisoner soon learns that he’ll need more than just his copy of Don Quixote to hold on to sanity — if he wants to survive the system.

Emilio Buale and Ivan Massagué in ‘The Platform.’ Photo: Netflix

You’ll meet all its partakers as Goreng wakes up on different levels every month — the privileged endorsers of convenience (Goreng himself), the seasoned complicit (Trimagasi), system-bred sheep (Imoguiri played by Antonia San Juan), the desperate (Miharu played by Alexandra Masangkay), the changemakers who believe in working the system (Baharat played by Emilio Buale) and the all-out resistor (interestingly, also Goreng). 

Ivan Massagué in ‘The Platform.’ Photo: Netflix

As Goreng tries to rationalize the machinery in order to hack it, The Platform keeps challenging him and viewers with aberrations and the expected, examining race, age, education, relationships and more. When order has been lain, what will you be complicit in, what will you fight for and who is worth dying for? Whether you walk away with the message of ‘the resistance will survive,’ or you rise believing, ‘fuck the system,’ The Platform is a movie you’ll devour it in one sitting, no breaks needed.

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