How far would you go to survive? To maintain a better social standing in life? These are some of the hardest questions we can ask ourselves. It is difficult to completely understand these inquiries hypothetically. However, the Netflix original film The Platform, which is Spanish with English subtitles, confronts these ideas head on in its roughly hour and a half runtime. The film was directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia and stars Ivan Massague, Antonio San Juan, and Zorion Eguileor.
The Platform follows a man named Goreng (Ivan Massague), living in what we assume is a near-future dystopian depiction of our own reality; we do not see much of the world outside. In this harrowing world there are alternatives for people who have committed crimes, wish to wash away debt, or desire a diploma or other advancement in their life’s current stations. The alternative is to voluntarily be imprisoned in the “Vertical Self-Management Center,” a drab vertical concrete prison.
Goreng wants a diploma and volunteers to go here to make it happen. Thus he awakens in a concrete cell with an elderly cellmate (Zorion Eguileor) who has been numbered 48. His cellmate reveals how their situation works and what the rules are for surviving. A hole in the middle of the cell is the only means of obtaining sustenance: throughout the day, a rectangular floating slab filled with food comes through each individual level, the titular “platform.” The food distribution starts at the top so the lower levels are at the mercy of those who live above them.
To elaborate more on the structure of the story itself would ruin the experience, but suffice to say the isolated ecosystem of The Platform plunges into disturbing territory. Through Goreng’s eyes, we see humanity at its lowest, resulting in blood-curdling, graphic imagery not for the faint of heart.
This is a film with something to say about the haves and the have-nots, and in this regard it succeeds. Therefore the images of blatant cruelty and violence feel earned. One theme present throughout much of the film: how can someone keep their morality and humanity alive in this situation? It’s good food for thought.
Toward the last third of the film, a message of a prophet leading his fellow oppressed citizens out of the darkness is hammered into the audience. The subtlety of the first two-thirds of the film begins to fall by the wayside, and the heavy-handedness deflates the emotional ending. While the sentiment itself is fine, the execution leaves much to be desired.
The Platform is admirable in its dedication to its themes. Still, I would have preferred the more subtle themes of morality, faith, and humanity displayed earlier in the film to be more prevalent towards the end. Ultimately, it was raw, disturbing, unique, and intriguing, but definitely not for everybody. (Rated TV-MA for Violence and Gore, Profanity and some sexual content. Netflix)