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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Review: The Platform (El Hoyo)

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Screenplay: David Desola and Pedro Rivero
Year: 2020

Greed and selfishness are an intrinsic part of societies, even after many movements have tried to create societies that are more united and compromised with the common wellbeing. “The Platform”, also known for its original Spanish name “El Hoyo”, focuses its argument on this premise emphasizing how every social stratum cares for their own survival without worrying for what happens in lower levels, a similar concept as the one presented on the winner of three Oscar awards “Parasite”, but with a way darker tone.

The hole is a type of vertical correctional facility where two people share each level and which the only purpose is to survive. Every day a platform full of food descends and stops at each level for two minutes, where the inhabitants of each level have the opportunity to eat all they can before it goes into the next level. Every month the inhabitants of the hole are changed from levels, which enhances or diminishes their probabilities of survival.

Goreng gets in the hole without knowing well the dynamics of this place with the goal of stopping to smoke and getting a title accredited from a university. Once inside the hole, he understands the real dynamic of the place, which is vastly different from what is known on the outside. Upset with how this place is managed and how people react in these situations, Goreng is decided to send a message, but for this, he must ensure his own survival. 

Just by understanding the basis of the plot of the movie the commentary on the social and economic stratum that envelops many of today’s modern cultures flourishes. Those at the top horde most of the resources looking out for their own survival while those at the bottom fight for whatever is left and those that don’t manage to come on top, perish. Getting into a lower level, just as going into a lower social stratum, is feasible, but going up is nearly impossible, except for a stroke of luck that in “The Platform” is represented with the change of levels that come every month. 

During the first minutes, we are introduced to Goreng (Ivan Massagué; “Pan’s Labyrinth”), who we follow throughout the movie, and Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor; “Pikadero”), the other person in the level, and the first interactions between both captivate the viewer because of their great acting skills. Similarly, debuting director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia presents the superb script from David Desola (“Almacenados”) and Pedro Rivero (“Birdboy: The Forgotten Children”) in a masterful way, keeping the claustrophobic feeling that ironically comes from the imposing structure and the constant danger that the lack of resources represents. The social topic never stops being a priority and how humans can leave behind their civism in precarious situations is showcased through the impressive special effects on the gore.

Netflix has scored a big one, maybe involuntarily, by adding this movie to their catalog in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, where solidarity is key in solving the issue, but the greed and selfishness continue to be the order of the day and of course, hoarding more resources than necessary. A powerful script full of social commentary and excellent acting is accompanied by a good dose of gore and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat, at the same time as it forces you to think about the social problems that surround us. “The Platform” is a must-watch movie.

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