Contagion

You can tell a movie is generally effective when you want to change your lifestyle somehow after seeing it. This is one of those movies.

I walked out of the movie wanting to make sure I knew everything about my wife’s health information. It made me feel concerned about her and those close to me. The intensive research that went into this movie really paid off, it’s very well done and creeped me out.

As you may have guessed it’s a movie about a virus. A particularly nasty one that kills people within a very short period of time and is highly infectious, spreading by touch. The rate it kills and how quickly it is spread puts it way ahead of the CDC and everyone else that’s trying to deal with it’s consequences. The viral attack starts with Gwyneth Paltrow and a number of others in a Chinese casino. A number of whom are traveling through other cities and countries on their way to their home. Before ya know it, marshall law is declared and things are getting out of control.

But that’s where Steven Soderbergh puts on the brakes. He takes you right up to the edge of the cliff, walks you alongside it so you can get a good look at it, and then lets go of that tight grip he has on the back of your neck as you relax again. Nerve-racking but still with a strong sense of reality. I appreciate this style a bit more compared to Rupert Emmerich who loves to blow up the planet in all it’s apocalyptic CG glory whenever he has a disaster film going on. Soderbergh doesn’t go quite that far, he lets you and your imagination build it’s own fear on what if that actually happened and maybe more importantly, what would happen next?

The story is told from different viewpoints including the immune husband, the doctors trying to find the cure, the CDC that’s working to contain it and the media that’s spreading information, like, well, you know… Each scene from the different perspectives has it’s own look and feel. Soderbergh does a lot with color and pacing that make him distinctive amongst his peers. The sound and music (which can be discordant) also lend themselves nicely to the tone, which is jarring at times.

The actors here are all on their game and includes Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Eilliot Gould, Demetri Martin, and Matt Damon who puts out an especially passionate performance. I have to say that Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, and Laurence Fishburne are also compelling to watch.

Wash your hands and don’t touch ANYTHING in the theater when you go see this.

reviewed by Sean McKnight