Review by Sean Boelman
Perhaps one of Netflix’s most ambitious and idiosyncratic original films to date, The Platform is a new Spanish sci-fi thriller from director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia and writers David Desola and Pedro Rivero. Thanks to an intriguing and well-executed premise with some excellent social commentary, this is a midnight movie that viewers won’t soon forget.
The movie follows a man as he enters a vertical prison where there are two prisoners per level and a platform lowers once a day allowing them to eat as much as they want for a period of one minute, the levels below being fed off of the leftovers of who ate before them. Like many great social satires, the set-up is unusual but shockingly believable.
Desola and Rivero use this simple and high-concept premise in a way to provide some truly fascinating commentary. This message about the lack of cooperation and empathy that humanity has for one another feels all the more relevant in light of recent events in which people are at each other’s necks competing for resources.
The pacing of the film is definitely very quick, as the rules of the movie’s world are established early on in the first few minutes of the film and a new twist being thrown in every so often at just the right time to pique interest. The result is a lean and topical thriller that is both thought-provoking and extremely satisfying.
Arguably the movie’s greatest success is its character development. The protagonist is a very compelling character and stands out as an outlier in terms of his motivation of being in the situation. However, almost more impressive are the supporting characters, who range from lovable to outright menacing, and do a great job of representing the different groups in society.
The acting in the film is very strong. Do be warned: the default on Netflix is for a dubbed version and one has to manually select the subtitled version to get the full scope of the actors’ performances. Zorion Eguileor is perhaps the biggest standout in his creepy and over-the-top supporting role, but there are plenty of memorable faces that the protagonist encounters.
Another thing about the movie that impresses is its production design. The film does a good job of immersing the viewer within the prison. Although the design of the cells may seem minimalistic, the amount of detail put into the world-building never ceases to impress. Additionally, the cinematography alternatingly makes the viewer feel trapped and overwhelmed by the structure.
The Platform is an undeniably unique social thriller, and while it is somewhat simple in nature, it works brilliantly as a result. Although Netflix offering a dubbed version of the movie may allow it to reach wider audiences, make sure to watch the subtitled version if you want the full effect.
The Platform lands on Netflix on March 20.