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By midlandsmovies, Apr 30 2020 09:52AM

The Platform (2020) Dir. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

From being trapped in an abusive household (The Invisible Man), to stuck in suburbia (Vivarium) to the rigid trappings of social hierarchy (Parasite) and the frustrating confined space seen in The Lighthouse, 2020 films seem to have predicted some of the real world angst caused by the current Coronavirus situation.

And with this year of lockdown films, new Spanish sci-fi The Platform arrives which tells the story of a man awakening in a ‘vertical’ prison with scarce access to food. Sound familiar?

In this construction, a table filled with gluttonous food gradually descends through the rooms, with the inmates randomly switching floors placing them at different points during their stay. And with those at the top taking first pickings, this leaves just scraps to those in cells at the bottom of the shaft.

Iván Massagué plays a dishevelled man called Goreng who arrives in his bare concrete abode with an older gent called Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) who explains the routine of this mysterious jail. As food comes down to their level, they get a predetermined time to eat what they can (or whatever is left over) before it makes it way further down to others.

A unique set up, the bare cells allow an audience to focus on the themes the film raises as well as the interesting and nuanced performances by the actors and their often feisty interactions with each other.

One day a bloodied woman arrives on the table who heads downwards looking for a child that may or may not exist. Whilst at the same time Goreng is held hostage by his cell mate who plans to eat his flesh as they end up on a low floor with barely any food to eat.

As they can converse with prisoners directly above and below them, Goreng pleads with others to ration more food out for those below as the inmates turn to desperate measures to survive.

From flesh eating and violent outbursts to bloody confrontations, The Platform may make your stomach churn at times. But that is not to say its gratuitous. Dealing as it does with poverty, wealth and societal structures, the shocking imagery serves to highlight the film’s deeper meanings.

Descending lower and lower into the depths of the prison, Goreng plans to send a symbolic message to those above in “control” and the film staunchly sticks to its sombre message of exploitation and ill treatment.

The brutalist but simple architecture of the set is somewhat reminiscent of a time long gone but its subject matter is so relevant today that its exploration of haves and have-nots feels suitably important.

However, The Platform provides this message in an extremely entertaining way. As although difficult to watch at times, this high-concept film provides engrossing dark drama, excellent acting throughout and fantastic production design. And these cinematic qualities are all tremendous as a cohesive whole, thus encouraging audiences to contemplate its ideas that unravel through its engaging narrative.

★★★★ ½

Michael Sales

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