I Saw A Film Today… Contagion

I have never been a germaphobic kind of person. Sure, I wash my hands as much as the next guy and practice good hygiene. But I don’t carry a bottle of hand sanitizer around and use it every time I shake someone’s hand. Well, some people I would. But I know people who do. To have a fear of something so abundant and unescapable as germs confuses me a bit. Why not have a fear of something more credible, like spiders (don’t judge)? Now director Steven Soderbergh has made a film for those who shower after someone sneezes in a room. And right before Flu season? How sadistic.

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Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a Minneapolis woman returning from a trip from Hong Kong after stopping off in Chicago. When she finally returns home to her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) and son, she collapses in the kitchen and dies. Soon after her son also passes.

And they are not the only ones. People from Tokyo to London are suffering from the same symptoms. It has come to the attention of officials that the cause for this is a new virus that is transmitted via fomites. This basically means if someone who has the virus touches a door knob that you later touch, guess who now has the virus?

The rest of the film deals with how humanity deals with this epidemic from inception to cure. It is told from the perspective of many different people. One from the view of Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) and Dr. Mears (Kate Winslet), two EIS agents who are racing to contain the virus and find a cure. Another is from Mitch, who is trying to survive the riots and mayhem with his daughter. The viewpoint from a conspiracy theorist blogger (Jude Law) who believes that a drug already available holds the key to the cure.

From the start, Contagion is a tightly made film that keeps you engaged from the beginning. Soderbergh takes events that we have seen before (such as the recent outbreak of Tuberculosis in Europe) and takes it to the extreme, all while reminding us constantly what we touch each and every day. It also shows what happens when humans are pushed to their limit. And the last half of the film has a feel of an apocalypse film, but a more realistic feeling than most films in this genre.

The imagery that Soderbergh uses is terrifying and haunting at times. At points he evokes things that remind of images taken during the second World War and more specifically the Holocaust. He also instead of simple showing you the state of the world, he subtly suggest it. Although some of the story lines do seem to get lost in the mix. The Marion Cotillard story is introduced early in the film yet is forgotten for most of it until near the ending.

In my opinion, most ensemble cast just don’t seem to work out all that well. But this cast works together fantastically. Just look at the names on the poster. You expect great things from Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Jude Law’s fang tooth (which was quite distracting at times). But it was the lesser utilized cast that impressed me. People like Chin Han, John Hawkes, and the above mentioned Marion Cotillard really bring their best for this film. The only person who was just a little out of here comfort zone was Gwyneth Paltrow, who just seemed confused.

An earmark of most good films is getting a reaction from people, which Contagion does. Over the weekend I saw many people coming out of the theater reacting to it. The best example was a lady who shrugged her husband’s arm off of her when he placed it on her shoulder and then told him “we are going to the store and buying all their Purell”.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Thoughts? Opinions? Leave them below.

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2 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… Contagion”

  1. Contagion becomes a battle between what it is and what it could have been. It satisfies just enough to warrant its existence while frustrating one with its potential. Nice review Kev.

  2. I wasn’t too fond of the ending to this one, but I really enjoyed the camera and sound work where they were showing the disease spreading.

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