cialis sale serif; font-size: small;”>Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Matt Damon, sickness Kate Winslet, viagra sale Jude Law, Gwyenth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburn, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle. 106 mins.
Contagion is Steven Soderbergh’s new medical thriller which follows the rapid spread of lethal virus which kills in days and has the potential to wipe out a substantial chunk of the world’s population. The movie follows several different characters over a number of weeks during which they deal with the initial outbreak up until the possible vaccine. As the pandemic grows and people begin to panic, the worldwide medical and health community struggle for a cure. All the while society is falling apart as people look to avoid what seems like inevitable infection.
The movie begins with Beth Emhoff (Gwyeneth Paltrow) who is in Hong Kong on a business trip. We follow her as she has a night out in a fancy restaurant where she tries some delicious pork, then onto Chicago where she sleeps with an ex-boyfriend before going home to her loving husband (Matt Damon). The movie then moves up a gear when Beth and her son suddenly become ill and die with shocking suddenness. A confused Damon looks for answers, but at first nobody seems to realise that this is the beginning of a virus. That is until it begins to rapidly spread from Hong Kong, Chicago and Minneapolis to being a worldwide problem.
For this movie, Soderbergh has enlisted quite an all star cast. The movie could have worked without the famous faces but they do provide some great portrayals of some very interesting characters. After losing his wife and son, Matt Damon plays the confused everyman who still has to protect his daughter. In a traditional disaster movie, his character would be combined with Lawrence Fishburn’s head of the CDC. But it adds realism that he is exactly like what most of the world would be – powerless and scared. Fishburn along with Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle and Elliot Gould portray the leading scientist/doctors who battle to figure out a vaccine for this virus. Fishburn plays his character well, illustrating the dilemmas facing anyone who holds privileged information that can affect the ones closest to him. Finally, one of the most interesting characters is the Journalist Alan played by Jude Law. He is a blogger with a loyal online fan base and controversial ideas concerning the virus.
Soderbergh has a substantial amount of experience handling large ensemble casts, having directed three Ocean films and the Oscar winning Traffic, so it was a surprise for me feeling that he had not got the best out of the characters and actors at his disposal. The film has so many characters and subplots that there just is not enough screen time available to do them justice. Every time it feels like the audience could begin to connect with Jude Law’s character, the movie is pulled away to Asia or some other less important part of the story. By the end of the film, the audience is none the wiser as to whether he is meant to be a truth teller or a con man. So too the tale of the epidemiologist portrayed by Marion Cotillard, who shows heroism while trying to help the people of a small Chinese village. Her fate remains frustratingly open ended.
There are a lot of good aspects about Scott Z Burns script. Unlike a lot of pandemic movies, this one tries to focus on the human drama of the disaster. There are no big explosions or CGI payoffs. It doesn’t surprisingly turn out to be a corrupt pharmaceutical company’s experiments gone wrong. Instead, all we get is a frighteningly realistic depiction of how an unknown virus could spread so easily worldwide and catch even our best doctors and scientists completely off guard.
With the recent panic over Bird Flu and Swine Flu, Soderbergh’s movie evokes a unnerving fear in us. This film offers a realism that is not seen often in these kinds of films. It has been praised for its ability to stay true to scientific plausibility and not forsake it for dramatic purposes. But, I believe the structure of this film hampers it. Too many times are we whipped around the world instead of a more in depth focus on a character. With so many characters and such a broad scope, too may times I felt myself thinking that this would have been better in a TV mini-series format.