Review: Contagion

THE SETUP: A woman (Gwenyth Paltrow) returning from a business trip in Japan unknowingly starts a contagious disease chain-reaction that threatens the global population. This is the story of how the world, and individuals, react. I always knew Paltrow would cause the end of the world.

THE THOUGHTS: OK, this is freaky. And I don’t mean horror story freaky. I mean, “holy crap, this could actually happen” freaky. I have to give the director Steven Soderbergh credit for going with the realistic approach over the Hollywood one (read: Outbreak). There are a lot of “movie stars” in this one (Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne) and they make a point of toning down the star power to capture a powerful, “real world” story.  Told from the perspective of the powerful and the powerless, and how those roles are pretty quickly reversed in the face of an unprepared for epidemic, this is an effective snapshot of how ill prepared and ignorant the world would be. Also, how very human we would be…for good and for bad. Well told, scary as hell, and impactful. It’s almost clinical in its storytelling as it doesn’t tell you how to feel (ie. Music cues) but rather let’s you feel. I still can’t get over that we touch our faces 15 times a day. In an environment where a disease is transmitted by touch, that’s a scary thought.

3 stars – good movie, take a friend. Could a disease put the world into a state of shock causing societal breakdowns? Who knows. But this is an effective thriller playing on this fears. Don’t touch your face. Stop it.

Random Recommendations
Andromeda Strain (1971) – I mentioned Contagion had a clinical tone. This is as clinical as you can get. Scientists try to determine a cure for a diseased brought to Earth from a satellite. Special effects are pretty lame but the story is captivating. Be warned – VERY dry its delivery.

28 Days Later (2002) – The opposite of dry delivery, a man (Cillian Murphy) awakens from his hospital bed to discover a disease has taken over the planet, devastating the population and turning people into rabid berserkers. Not so fun. Scary and intense, this movie will freak you out…at the very least from things jumping out at you.

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