The Platform (2020)

“Hunger unleashes the madman in us.”

More conceptually intriguing than it is satisfying by the nondescript end, The Platform nevertheless confronts its position on systemic injustice through sci-fi satire, pointing out the wrongdoings of a dystopian future without providing a real way to right them either. The film asks profound questions, offers no answers, and its promising premise tumbles down a rabbit hole of violence with no real idea of what it’s supposed to mean or say. Some movies are ambiguous because they’re painstakingly layered. The Platform, on the other hand, feels puzzling only because so many of the crucial, interior pieces to this picture seem to have been left out of the box altogether. It goes unfinished.

The Platform whips open its curtains to unveil a methodical, posh, seemingly upscale French cuisine dining service with endless dishes. The string section music gives it that Chef’s Table air of elegance. Then it cuts to Goreng (Ivan Massagué), waking up on Level 48 of a concrete, obelisk prison with his older, wiser, and more conniving cellmate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). Rules are plainly laid out. The squalid conditions fester. And The Platform wastes no time in developing the testy dynamic between two men from two very different generations. Goreng and Trimagasi come to enjoy each other’s company, and with time, even dine together on the leftover pickings lowered down “The Hole” level by level, day after day. I think a more confident movie would have stayed and toyed around with these two.

The bountiful meal starts at the top and makes its way to the bottom, offering an obvious metaphor that embodies the inequity of trickle down economics and our antiquated class systems. The higher your level, the more options you have to feast on. Suffice to say that murder and mayhem and cannibalism occur the further down the empty, floating and untethered platform descends into the cavernous, lottery style mausoleum of a fortress as the “Vertical Self-Management Center” changes monthly. The Platform has a good setup but gets lost in its own excess as it chugs along, resorting to happenstance and deserting the already established logic. Everything about the final act gave me the impression that it was written off the cuff or on the fly.

While the film is quite literal from the start, it morphs into something too vague and pointless for its own well being, relying on chummy dialogue, poorly transitioned flashbacks, and on the nose plotting to force feed a message down our throats. We’re meant to be the exploited, farmed birds bred and fed to deliver a rich and decadent final product. Maybe that’s the gross point of David Desola’s hit or miss script paired with the nihilistic direction from Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. I’m not buying that though. And with all of the clear-cut, copied and pasted parallels to the epic adventures of Don Quixote, The Platform neither modernizes or updates the classic 17th century novel. It’s inherently limited by the very nature of its being, refusing to declare if it’s real imprisonment or some sort of social experiment, and the film suffers from too much confinement. The Platform definitely stokes and conveys the ugliness of human nature, yet I can’t help but wonder how much more involving and accomplished it might’ve been with the all-seeing, unknowing fear-mongering from a Panopticon design. Like the falsely worshipped structure at its center, The Platform becomes more and more barren with every passing minute, leaving us full on empty calories.

“It’s better to eat than be eaten.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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