Brendan Da Costa

The Platform (2019) Poster

Title: The Platform or El Hoyo


Directed by: Galder Gatztelu-Urrutia


Written by: David Desola & Pedro Rivero


Starring: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Amelio Buale & Alexandra Masangkay


Produced by: Ángeles Hernández & Carlos Juárez

Food falls

from above like manna

from heaven.”

Reel Talk - The Platform (2019)

December 12, 2021
by Brendan Da Costa

The Platform really wants you to know that it’s an allegory… obviously. A cult favourite, The Platform panders to its intended audience at the expense of the patience of wider audiences. One particularly great performance and decent execution save this film from falling all the way down from its lofty heights.

 

Set in a tower-style prison where food is dispensed via a platform that descends from above, prisoners awake each month on a new floor, hoping that there will be food leftover for them when the platform arrives.

 

This 2019 Spanish film won the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival—an honour that it undeservedly shares with Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows.

 

The cult popularity of The Platform in the North American market can be attributed, in large part, to the increased access to foreign language content thanks to streaming services such as Netflix. While Netflix’s game-changing business model has brought both tremendous original foreign content—such as 2018’s Roma—and outstanding outside foreign content—such as 2001’s Y Tu Mamá También—to wider audiences, more than a palatable amount of chaff has come through with the wheat. The Platform is some of that chaff.

“There are 3 kinds of people; the ones above, the ones below, and the ones who fall.”

Apart from an interesting—if unoriginal—concept, some effective set design and a Hopkins-as-Hannibal-esque performance by Zorion Eguileor, there really isn’t much impressive about this film. Struggle as it may for an ounce of originality, it can’t help but feel derivative, like you’ve seen this all before done somewhere else but better.

You and I are murderers. But I’m more civilized.”

Most other reviews raved about the “twist” ending. This reviewer finds that incomprehensible considering that the ending was as inevitable and predictable as the next swooshing pass of the banquet-laden platform, particularly when we consider that the content itself is so painfully unoriginal. Frankly, despite going big on gore and spectacle, The Platform feels like a poor man’s Snowpiercer… if someone up-righted the train and shook out everything that made it great.

 

The Platform lives and dies with its allegory—an allegory that you’re clubbed over the head with from start to finish—but unfortunately falls prey to so many common misconceptions and notions about the nature of economics, capitalism and income distribution.

Instead of presenting us with characters who have actually earned our empathy or interest—or, really, their next meal—we’re met with a band of miscreants who await food, i.e. wealth, to fall from above like manna from heaven. Even the fact that they are prisoners speaks to the filmmakers’ warped notion that the economy is somehow a prison and we are its inmates… even its beaten-to-death allegory is unoriginal and so on the nose that you can smell the piety soaked into every frame like vinegar into a pickle.

 

While this film bludgeons you with its empty, regurgitated left-wing moralism you’ll be wishing that someone might actually just bludgeon you. Nevertheless, if you ignore the pitfalls of this film, you can enjoy it for its execution… obviously.