My Baby’s on the Level
I had been hearing a lot of good things about The Platform. A Spanish film loaded with societal metaphors is usually not my thing, but I have been striking out a lot lately. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a solid “home run”, so why not try some word of mouth to change my luck?
Well, it paid off.
The movie begins with Goreng (Ivan Massagué) who wakes up in a concrete room with a big number 48 marked on the wall. He is here with a cellmate, Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), who explains that they are on the 48th “level” in a tower-like prison, what the prisoners call, The Pit. They have running water and a toilet, but food is not readily available. A platform drops down from the higher levels with a banquet of food through large holes in the floors and ceilings, but prisoners on lower levels are only left with what those at the top have passed down. The platform will only stay on a level for a brief period before moving down and attempting to keep any food will earn both cellmates a death sentence.
The prisoners live out this way for a month at a time before being assigned a new level, and possibly a new cellmate. Your behaviour bears no consideration in where you are assigned next. The higher your placement, the greater your chances, with success being slim for those on the lower levels. Down there, it is dog eat dog… or human eat human…
If you attempt to approach a movie like The Platform with logic, you will have a ton of questions with no clear answer. Like, why do some people seem to be better prepared for their time in The Pit? Each prisoner is allowed to bring one item with them. Goreng has no idea what he was getting himself into when he volunteered and brought a book to pass the time. Trimagasi, who was sentenced to The Pit, somehow knew there would be a need to defend himself and brings a self-sharpening knife.
There is a lot more to nitpick but like Snowpiercer or Parasite, The Platform is not attempting to tell a plausible story, but a metaphorical one. So… you just have to go with it. I find this easier to do when I like the characters and can trust what they are telling me is what is happening. Movies that cross this line, like The Lighthouse, leaves me completely lost.
I liked how the movie set you up for the ride too. Yes, it is a trope to have the protagonist wake up without any idea of what is happening, but Goreng is a little slow on the uptake. As a viewer, you are able to understand how horrible The Pit is before he is. Then you’re ready to root for Goreng when he catches up to you and does… well, at least what you’d like to think you would do.
This is my second Spanish film this year (the other being Pain and Glory) and my eighth foreign movie of the year. Look at me, I’m becoming one of those “foreign film guys”! You’ll probably take my badge away after you find out how I watched this one with the English dubs instead of subtitles. After watching all of those spaghetti westerns, I’ve become used to experiencing movies this way, so it is what I choose.
Anyway, The Platform executed nicely all the way through. I have a little issue with the ending, but overall the movie makes up for its vague moments with some hard-hitting social commentary. The Platform earns a trip around the bases. #MarsApproved.