As his first feature length directorial accomplishment,Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia brings us the brutal, existential allegory, The Platform. Beautifully acted with a wonderful script, this film takes you into dark philosophical waters. The more time that lapses from my initial viewing, the more powerful and thought-provoking the story becomes. Pondering the film for consideration of this review, left me with that same satisfying feeling that one derives from finishing a fascinating novel.
The protagonist, Goreng, played by Ivan Massagué, wakes up in a cell with another inmate, Trimagasi, portrayed wonderfully by Zorion Eguileor. Trimagasi, the veteran prisoner, reluctantly teaches Goreng the ropes as they form a tense relationship. They are cell mates in a vertical prison known as The Pit where a square platform containing mountains gourmet food, is lowered down the hollow center. Each pair of inmates has only a handful of minutes to eat their fill before the platform continues down stopping only once at each level. Goreng learns that each month, all the inmates are gassed and awake in a random new floor. Less and less food reaches the prisoners in the lower floors and it is known that food runs out before the levels end, although how many floors exist is a mystery even to Trimagasi.
The terror of Goreng’s situation is compounded as his time in The Pit reveals horror after horror. He’s trapped in a dreadful game for survival that shares many parallels to societal norms. The film challenges our complicity in the classist state of the world and our voluntary participation in the suffering of those less fortunate than us.
Casting is spot on for all the characters and of particular merit is the chemistry between Ivan Massagué’s Goreng and the above mentioned Eguileor’s Trimagasi. Although Goreng does meet other characters in The Pit, his time with Trimagasi remains the most memorable and also creates the framework for the reality of Goreng’s situation. Props are deserved for the rest of the cast as well, including Antonia San Juan, who plays the sad Imoguiri, another inmate that Goreng encounters in The Pit. Her character offers Goreng a new spin on how best to survive in this prison, and while doing so, begins to challenge the audience to wonder “How would I compare?” And then there is a mysterious woman, portrayed by Alexandra Masangkay, who befriends Goreng and survives in The Pit with her own feral and violent tactics.
This film would make any high school philosophy teacher jump for joy, were it not for the hard edge of bloody violence that escalates as the story moves along. There’s enough gore to keep any horror fiend happy, while the more thoughtful side of the brain is content to chew on the questions the film begs.
Stark in esthetics, the story is artfully filmed with a lot of play on the geometric landscape of The Pit. The hole where the platform is lowered creates a vastness to an otherwise simple set design. Montages are used effectively and offer up fascinating sequences. Whether camera work, sound design, or ambiance, the films succeeds in using all elements to enhance the story with vigor.
Blood-drenched and brutalized, the audience goes on a terrible journey with Goreng through the self-inflicted punishments of humanity. Darkly compelling and fantastically crafted, The Platform makes a wonderful conversation piece with your fellow cinephiles. It’s the perfect reflection of the state of our society. Gaztelu-Urrutia puts a mirror to our face and makes a case for change in the film’s third act. Perhaps we should take heed.
The Diva Del Mar