Friday, March 20, 2020

Review: The Platform

Release date: March 20, 2020
Running time: 94 minutes
Starring:  Ivan Massagu√©, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan 

The Platform takes place in a bizarre prison where two prisoners are on each floor.  The prison has a number of floors; no one knows how many but there are many floors above and many floors below.  Every day, a table of food starts at the top and goes level by level, so that each floor can eat.  Those at the top get their pick of the food and can gorge themselves; those at the bottom rarely get any food.  After 30 days, the floors are rearranged so someone who used to be high up might end up towards the bottom.  Although one would think this might cause those above to care more for those less privileged on the below floors, it leads to a dog-eat-dog mentality where those above take full advantage of what they have, and literally spit on those below.  

The Platform has a very good setting, with a cell that is both interesting and boring.  It is tough to describe, but the cell itself is very plain, but the world that it lives in is extremely interesting.  Everything about this setting is made to evoke this sense of hopelessness that the prisoners feel.  On top of the setting, the sounds in the Platform also evoke this.  Everything is industrial and deliberate, and although there aren't a lot of sounds, you quickly get to know the main ones associated with this prison. The sound of the food elevator, the beeps to notify when something new happens, and the little voices from cells above and below; all help to bring this world to life.  Goreng (Massagu√©), the main prisoner, is fantastic; he displays a range of emotions and undergoes a physical transformation in the film.  He is paired with Trimagasi (Equileor), who is also wonderfully cast as an older, seasoned prisoner who has had both good and awful times.  He has good quips and has the perfect amount of heartlessness that you would expect from spending that much time in this harsh environment.  The camaraderie between the two is interesting to watch, as are the lessons that the pair learn.  

The Platform has a relatively simple premise that it uses to maximum effect.  From this simple setting, it is able to evoke messages about social responsibility and the difficulty of enacting real change.  It also harps on the nature of man and the actions one takes in the harshest of circumstances.  And these good, interesting messages are delivered in a way that I had not seen before.  They are easy to understand and effectively communicated.  However, in order to teach these lessons, the Platform goes off the rails towards the end.  The main story builds up very well, but the movie feels like it jumps to a strange and illogical conclusion.  Also, although the writing is generally good, there are some scenes towards the end that just feel off.  It generally feels like the movie had this amazingly interesting premise and character, but just couldn't figure out how to end it.  Which is a shame, because the journey to the end was a very engaging one.

The Platform delivers important messages about social responsibility in a new way, with a grim and interesting setting, fantastic characters, and a bizarre but effective premise.

Watch it

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