Everybody under the sun is stuck home for the moment because of the coronavirus, so people are looking to Netflix in order to fill their time in an entertaining and distracting fashion. Because of this, people are finding interesting things to watch that they wouldn’t have explored otherwise. That is most likely why The Platform, a Spanish film that uses a crazy prison metaphor to examine the true effects of capitalism on society, is a popular topic for debate in the film world right now and is making waves with audiences all over. This film is one of the strangest and most creative projects to come out of the Netflix banner in a long time. As soon as the movie starts and the audience is introduced to the plot, the movie intrigues viewers enough to keep watching the madness unfold, but the movie goes on to enthrall the audience. While the plot may be a bit thin and thinking about it too much on a surface level generates some confusion, the messages this movie sends about government and society are grandiose and meticulous, creating a slyly intelligent experience that applies to the majority of events happening in modern times.
Explaining the plot of this movie is essentially just explaining the concept that the writers have cooked up to represent society in a condensed form. The film begins when the protagonist, a naive man named Goreng (Ivan Massagué), wakes up in a cell with an older roommate in a facility known as “The Hole.” His cellmate explains that this is a vertical prison, with each cell stacked on top of each other, with a gaping hole in both the top and the bottom of each cell. When Goreng looks up and down, there are cells in both directions as far as the eye can see. The main twist here is that a platform of food is lowered down through the top of each cell, giving the cell mates near the top a far larger portion of food than the people on lower cells. The people near the top take all the food they can get instead of rationing the food, meaning the food doesn’t even make that far. And how do the people who don’t get any food survive? Well, that’s where things get interesting, to say the least. There are so many more little rules and details about this twisted allegory: too many to put in this review without giving something away or going on far too long. The prisoners are randomly moved every month to a new floor: sometimes it is a high floor and life is easy–but others get on a low floor and are forced into a life or death situation and pitted against their cellmate.
It is easy to see where this movie is going when it comes to the meaning: the top floors are the rich (the 1%), who have it all but are affected by the changing nature of society. The people in middle floors are the middle class; they get by on the leftovers of the upper class just fine but are still on the edge of dropping off a cliff. However, the lower floors who don’t get any food are the impoverished, who have to consume and attack each other just to survive because the wealthy have no sympathy and will not hold back resources for those less fortunate. The majority of the prisoners are in the lower cells — in fact there are more floors than the characters and the audience even realize, symbolizing the upper and middle class’ ignorance as to just how much struggle is happening for the people who are less wealthy. The people who make the food, along with the people who put these prisoners in this position in the first place are the government who utilizes this capitalist system to take advantage of the poor and working class. Each character we meet along the way also represents a certain section of society that either complies or rebels against the flawed and terrible system they live in. In short, literally everything about this movie is symbolism for something in today’s world.
Name a modern day issue that plagues the world and this movie covers it. Hot-button issues like racism towards the lower class by the privileged, the way in which people use religion as a basis of judging other people, and the ability of the younger generation to cause change and how they are suppressed because of that quality are just a few of the things The Platform addresses. The ways in which this scenario is applicable to every aspect of modern life is the genius of it. The writers, David Desola and Pedro Rivera, somehow create a plot that depicts every single nuance of culture in a capitalist society, which deserves acclaim on its own even if the rest of the movie wasn’t also amazing. Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia knows exactly how to make the audience uneasy; every time something unsettling or disturbing is happening or about to happen the scene is lit with a dark and grimy red, but during the calmer in-between scenes he lights it with a calmer green-ish color. The score and the effects are also top-notch, both contributing to the experience of chaos that this film presents.
An entire dissertation could be written on the amount of meaning that The Platform has contained in it. This review only scratches the surface of the depths this movie goes to within its short runtime, especially in the last thirty minutes. The writers must have structured this movie with the metaphor in mind and the plot was structured after the themes had been thought out. However, the plot sometimes suffers because of this, with certain plot elements either making little sense or having no explanation. While the movie never lags, the first half of the movie simply follows the protagonist trying to survive, and doesn’t quite have a driving force keeping the action moving forward. Along with this, certain plot holes are scattered around the movie (When the prisoners change cells every month, how does the administration move them in and out of the cells?). Despite this, it is easy to tell that the writers and the director were not concerned with these material things and instead wanted the audience to think about the state of society and the consequences of the capitalist government most of the world lives in.
There’s a reason The Platform is getting so much buzz around the Internet right now: it won’t leave audiences’ minds for days after they watch it. The amount of interesting plot elements to discuss here is astronomical, especially given it is a short hour and 34 minutes long. As far as I can tell, neither the writers or director has done anything I have heard of, but they have definitely left their mark in the industry with this film. The creativity on display here is what Netflix should be promoting more often, and it is refreshing to see even more international films get attention in an American audience. Just like Jordan Peele’s Us, the plot may not add up in the end to the point of satisfaction, but the themes are so potent that it does not matter at all. The Platform is a disturbing and eye-opening look at capitalist society that is even more applicable given how the current crisis in America and around the world has made the flaws rise to the top.
I give The Platform an A-.