It's the Twenty-First Century's answer to 1995's Wolfgang Petersen epidemic thriller Outbreak. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, who gave us films such as Traffic, Ocean's Eleven (Twelve & Thirteen) and The Good German, brings to screen what I call a real scary movie. You don't need supernatural themes and nauseating blood and gore to insight fear in a person. All you need is a virus and no cure...
Contagion looks at what happens to the world, it's people and the structure of society when something as small as a virus presents itself to an otherwise healthy human population. Sickness is very real. We have all had the flu before. We've all had the sniffles. We've all experienced being physically unwell in our life time. But what happens when you can't get better? What happens when sickness turns to being seriously ill and having no safety net such as a natural immunity or a drug? It highlights one's own mortality. What is more scarier than your body self-destructing as it tries to combat something foreign inside it? Pretty scary. It's even more frightening because it can happen. You only need to remember a few years back when Swine Flu hit the headlines and the kind of panic that generated...
This film is brilliant because it doesn't focus on what happens to you when you contract this deadly virus. It could have so easily gone down the path of just documenting every patient's demise, but instead it examined different perspectives from across the globe, following each individual's different pathways as they battle through uncertainty. Of course you have the Government's Perspective, the Scientist's Perspective, the Civilian's, the Pharmaceutical's, the Journalists respective perspectives. It wouldn't be a virus film without it presenting its key victims - who got sick first?
Contagion documents the spread through number of days - but you don't start at the beginning, you start at Day 2. Without spoiling it any further, lets just say you do come to a resolution in the end. It is not all doom and gloom, but there is a great portion of the film where you sit there and wonder...will the human race survive this one?
The cast is comprised of some very big names and you know what, who wouldn't want to be attached to this film? It's a great story, with some fascinating characters and some interesting insights into the process of finding a cure. It's also a great depiction of modern society and how its constructs can be crippled purely from being at the mercy of something completely biological.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard all starred and all in their respective performances were excellent. They were joined by some familiar faces of the smallscreen, Jennifer Ehle - Pride & Prejudice die-hards would recognize her as the original Elizabeth Bennett. It was nice to see her onscreen in one of the central roles. She was well-cast and played her part flawlessly. Another familiar face was Malcolm in the Middle's Bryan Cranston whom played a military official.
|Jennifer Ehle plays scientist in search for a cure, Dr. Ally Hextall|
My favorite performance however and the stand-out from the ensemble was definitely Matt Damon. He was most believable. His character is central in that his wife and son fall victim to the deadly virus. Having survived and in fact presented a natural immunity to the virus, you are left to experience how he continues to live life whilst everyone else's falls apart around him. Without having any time to grieve or reflect on his loss, his primary focus throughout the film is to protect his only surviving family member, his daughter - whom may or may not have a natural immunity. His story is touching and there is a scene towards the end which is quite uplifting. I won't go into details as I do not want to spoil the film for anyone, but lets just say it adds a little light at the end of the tunnel.
Contagion is a brilliant film - it's a hypochondriac's nightmare, but it's worth every minute.
Watch the trailer ~