the platform | galder gaztelu-urrutia | david desola | pedro rivero | ivan massague | zorion eguileor | antonia san juan | sci-fi | sci fi | thriller | spain | cannibal | emilio buale | alexandra masangkay | zihara llana | mario pardo | algis arlauskas | eric goode
Film: The Plaform (El hoyo)
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Writer: David Desola and Pedro Rivero
Starring: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor and Antonia San Juan
This movie I actually heard about when a podcast I listen to caught this at a film festival and said it was one they thought was odd, but enjoyed and to keep an eye out for it. I then heard people in the social media communities I’m a part of talking about it as well so I figured I would give it a viewing for a featured review on my podcast, especially since it seemed to have a lot to delve into. The synopsis is a vertical prison with one cell per level, two people per cell, only one food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down, an endless nightmare trapped in The Pit.
Much like the premise of the movie states, we’re following Goreng (Ivan Massagué) as he volunteers to come into this prison. He’s given the opportunity to get an accredited diploma if he can serve 6 months here. His first roommate is Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). He’s an older man who gives him a bit of the rules. Once a day a platform of food that lowers from above. You get two minutes to eat whatever you want from it. It then goes down to the next floor until it completes its journey and going back up. The problem is that those at the top are gorging themselves and those below are getting nothing. Goreng points this out and that if everyone just takes what they need, then everyone can eat. Trimagasi accuses him of being a communist for thinking this way.
At first Goreng doesn’t eat, but gives in. He was trying to take this opportunity to quit smoking and you get to bring one item in, which for him is a book he’s always wanted to read in ‘Don Quixote’. This experience though really changes a person and pushes them to do things they normally wouldn’t.
It should also be pointed out that people cannot keep food after the platform leaves, which Goreng learns first hand. You stay in your cell for one month and if your cellmate dies during then, the next month you’re given someone new. You also are taken to a new floor each month as well. There’s also a woman that is looking for her child, Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) who rides the platform down once a month, killing anyone that messes with her.
That’s all I really want to delve into when it comes to the plot of this movie as I don’t want to spoil what happens and what Goreng endures during his time there. This is a fitting time for this movie to get a wide release like it is as well. This has an intriguing concept overall and I’m going to try to hit all of the points that I feel are pertinent.
The first is that I think is that Goreng is there voluntarily. I’ve seen Facebook posts like ‘Would you spend x amount of time in prison to have your student loan debt wiped out’ or something like ‘Would you live in this cabin with no internet or television for x amount of time for x amount of dollars’. This movie is exploring this idea. Instead of going through school, Goreng decides to come here so he can get a diploma to better his life. Trimagasi is there for a different reason and it was only by choice as the other was a mental hospital. There’s also Moguiri (Antonia San Juan) who is interestingly here as she feels it is an experiment. She brings a bit more knowledge on the place and for a sad reason on top of it as well. The same could be said for Miharu, which I don’t know if we can fully believe what the story is.
This is also a fitting time that there’s people my age that are speaking out about capitalism and how it’s problematic. Before anyone gets upset and if you stop reading now, that’s fine, but I have a job that is pretty well paying. I’ll probably never be rich, but I can pay my bills, maintain my hobby and do things for fun that I want to do. I want to have more people in this country of the United States to do the same. Goreng presents this idea and it is ironic that his older cellmate calls him a communist. Goreng is making an amazing point though that if everyone would just take what they need and leave the rest, instead of gorging, then everyone could get. This is much like those at the top taking all of the money and the masses being told that it will ‘trickle down’. This is a great allegory of why that doesn’t work. I get that Goreng gets jaded, but never fully loses faith.
There’s an interesting looks at descending into madness here as well. Goreng is haunted by those that he comes in contact with and I think it is interesting how this plays out. He loses his mind, sometimes due to hunger and other times to just flat out despair for what he’s dealing with. Regardless, they become the voices in his head, trying to direct him what to do. They take on the good and evil voices as well. There’s also the character of Miharu. Trimagasi tells him that she’s there to find her child. Imoguiri provides a different take on her and stating her child couldn’t be here. Regardless, this character once a month continues to search and is quite wild. She creates a bond with Goreng who treats her like a person. This is probably another allegory for how we treat people around us that are below our circumstances.
I think that’s all I can say about the story as of now, so I’ll move to the pacing. This has a normal runtime of 94 minutes. After we get what I’d consider the first part of Goreng’s time in this place, I was wondering where they would go from there. I do think that it might run just a bit long, but I like the story they’re trying to convey. They don’t give us a lot of back-story, which I normally like, but I think the mystery here works for the underlying issues. The ending works for me, but I could see some not liking it if I’m going to be honest.
The acting I thought was solid across the board. I thought that Massagué did a really good at the lead for this movie. He’s the first person to bring a book into this place and it almost seemed like he thought he’d be spending his time in a cell, with a mate and just pass the time. I like that he sees an opportunity to do better and even though he meets resistance, continues to try. Eguileor also did a really good as someone who has seen how good it can be to be at the top and has had a difficult decision being down low in it. He’s also what is bad with capitalism. San Juan is a tragic character as is Masangkay, depending on the back-story you find true. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed as well.
If you couldn’t tell, this movie has a bit of a sci-fi vibe to it as well. The platform doesn’t seem to have any strings or chains to move it up and down. It just floats. I thought that effect looked good. It is also interesting to how they know if people are keeping food on their floor or not, which causes bad things to happen. There are some effects aside from this that were done practically and looked good. We also get some interesting shots when Goreng loses his mind so props to the cinematography there.
Now with that said, I really enjoyed this movie despite its bleak look on the state of the affairs in some places. This is interesting to come out of Spain, but it hits so close to home for me as a resident of the US. I think that the acting is really good and the allegories it is exploring are well done. There are some really good effects in this movie and the soundtrack fit for what was needed. If I have any problems it is that it gets a bit boring at times, but I never lost interest. I would say that my rating here would be a good movie. I might have to revisit this again this year as this could be a contender for my year end.
My Rating: 8 out of 10