Contagion Reviewed

When SARS first hit in 2003 or even H1N1 more recently, did you ever find yourself more in tuned with the news? Always constantly watching the TV or reading the newspaper just to find out the progress the WHO has made in coming up with a vaccine.

You watch closely for symptoms you might display and soon you find that it’s not the infection that gets to you but the fear of infection. Director Steven Soderbergh of Oceans 11, 12 and 13 translates that into this week’s film, Contagion.

The Plot

Contagion is centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak. The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh, and stars Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet.

Contagion follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.

The Verdict

It’s a scary thought really, this fictional story about a fictional virus is in a way meant to show how bad things could have gotten during the SARS and H1N1 outbreak. There’s more than just the survival of regular people in this film but politics, news, manipulation or perceived manipulation. Do the people working in the government and medical sector really benefit with first hand information and honestly how vaccines are come up with?

You think that in the modern society we live in that we have ultimate control over things but this movie shows us how a lot of it is by chance. Steven Soderbergh does a good job telling the day by day panic of this killer virus that jumps all over the place.

It’s done at a very engaging pace with many story arcs within the film with different working classes of people suffering. You have the important doctor in the medical sector played by Lawrence Fishburne who does a very convincing job of a man who’s got his fair share of responsibilities and what he would do to protect the ones he cares about.

Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow play a couple where Matt’s character is in a rather unique situation where the virus is concerned. Don’t expect him to save the day, his character is as real as it can get. Kate Winslet also puts up a great performance as a doctor in the field, young, passionate and no matter how good she is at her job, somethings are just not within her control.

And then there’s Jude Law’s character as a blogger in search of the truth. He sees himself as a writer but is told that “Blogging isn’t writing, it’s just graffiti with punctuation”. So no one takes him seriously except his fans. He believes there’s a government conspiracy. Well it’s interesting how his character develops and for many moments he does make a compelling arguement.

Through the lives of these characters, Soderbergh gives us a peek at how quickly civilization might unravel in the face of a rapidly-accelerating, extinction-level, biological event. In other words, humans don’t behave like humans in the face of extinction.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The way the story ends is spine chilling, in fact you might even think twice about shaking someones hand when you leave the cinema.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures Singapore

Contagion opens in cinemas 9 September

 By Connor J. Bale – Movie Maniac

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