Goreng (Iván Massagué) wakes to find himself an inmate inside a minimalist jail. There are no doors or windows, just concrete levels in a vertical prison through which a central platform passes through each day laden with food. As those above take whatever they want, this results in those below fighting over scraps below as the platform continues its journey into an increasingly morbid hell…
… an exquisitely rendered, and jarringly-timely tale about co-operation during confinement.
Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s horror thriller for Netflix works on many levels. As a thematic companion to Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Snowpiercer‘, this is another survival of the fittest set in a skewed society where the lines between rich and poor are graphically delineated. Where in ‘Snowpiercer‘, the privileged occupied the front carriages of a speeding train, ‘The Platform’ is a top-down society where opportunities, like food, are stripped from the table of life as it passes you by.
Initially counter-pointing Iván Massagué’s idealistic Goreng against curmudgeonly cell-mate Trimagasi, (expertly underplayed by actor Zorion Eguileor), the film is at its strongest at during these initial exchanges. As Trimagasi reluctantly imparts the laws and wherefores of life in the platform, Trimagasi’s Eguileor owns the film as both participant and narrator.
However, what starts out as a battle of ideologies, with Trimagasi taunting Gorneg’s preciously-clutched liberal values, gives way to a need to explain itself in Goreng’s will to escape. As Goreng becomes more desperate and resorts to more barbarity as the prison re-shuffles its inmates each month, by raising some up and casting the others down to the lower levels, the movie’s premise becomes the first casualty.
In short, as the depravity goes up, the coherency goes down – and that’s a shame for such an exquisitely rendered, and jarringly-timely tale about co-operation during confinement. Where greed, cannibalism and grotesquery pick over the remnants of Gorneg’s values, ‘The Platform’s premise ultimately outshines its own execution.
That said, with a strong string section that evokes the Kronos Quartet’s seminal score for Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream, ‘The Platform’ is a still a riveting watch – albeit more so as a benchmark for what fresh depths director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia will plumb to next.