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Contagion

A movie directed by Steven Soderbergh

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Contagion is a Chilling and Gripping Thriller

  • Sep 9, 2011
Rating:
+4

A couple of years ago, news and health agencies the world over were concerned about a possible pandemic stemming from bird flu and swine flu. Thankfully like SARS a few years earlier, the outbreaks were rather small thanks to a wealth of precautionary information and measures. In the new film “Contagion” director Steven Soderbergh paints a frighteningly realistic look at a worldwide pandemic that spread without warning, and its devastating aftermath.

When businesswoman Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), returns from a business trip to Hong Kong with what appears to be a simple case of the flu, her husband Mitch (Matt Damon), figures it’s nothing to be overly concerned about. When Beth all of a sudden begins to convulse and later dies unexpectedly, doctors are at a loss to explain what happened.

Over the next few days, more and more people become sick and die including Mitch’s young stepson, which gets the national and international disease control organizations working overtime to try to trace, identify and treat this mysterious ailment that sweeping the globe. Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) leads the investigation in the United States and calls in Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), to track who may have come into contact with Beth upon her return to the Minneapolis. The World Health Organization sends Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) to Hong Kong trace possible origins.

As the first week passes more and more people become sick worldwide, cities start fighting a losing battle against frenzy and panic. In time the virus is identified but due to its unique nature, finding a vaccine and producing it can take several months with thousands of lives lost with each passing day. With chaos breaking loose and the bodies piling up, the authorities find themselves unable to deal with the threat they are facing and go to extreme measures such as closing the state borders to try to contain the spread of the virus.

Adding to the confusion is a freelance blogger named Alan (Jude Law), who has amassed a large audience with his conspiracy claims that there are indeed cures available for the mysterious virus. He contends the government elite and the pharmaceutical companies are exploiting the situation in order to milk maximum profit from the inevitable release of a vaccine.

The film deftly moves around the world showing the victims, scientists and investigators and how the crisis is affecting them. It also shows how quickly society can break down as scene after shocking scene of chaos and devastation are introduced juxtaposed with the number of days since the outbreak of the virus.

Soderbergh keeps you on the edge of your seat and doesn’t give you a moment’s rest. Characters are introduced and given just enough of a back story so that you understand their place in the film. Most heartbreaking is Matt Damon’s role as a father who was watching over his only remaining child, going to great measures to keep her safe while also dealing with the death of his wife and the unfolding secret of the last days of her life.

There is truly an impressive array of stars in the film, some of whom play brief but significant parts in the overall story. However, the movie’s strength is also its weakness in that with so many primary characters, there were some diverging storylines with that did not get fully fleshed out.

While “Contagion” is not the first film to deal with viral outbreak, it is perhaps the most realistic as it doesn’t resort to any Hollywood standards such as car chases, explosions, starcrossed lovers and so on to tell its story. Instead it focuses on stark, somber scenarios and the struggles of each character is very easy to relate to.

Kudos has to be given to many of the stars of the film for their understated but pitch perfect work in very unglamorous roles. Their subtle & poignant acting underscore the dire situations that their characters find themselves in. It was refreshing to see leading men and women looking quite ordinary and letting the story carry the picture rather than focusing on one individual to save the day.

All throughout the film I found myself captivated and never once did I lose interest in the scenarios or characters nor did I find anything in the film impossible to believe. The film doesn’t go overboard on pointing fingers instead it gives an honest and unflinching look at a scenario that we can only hope will never happen. But as the film points out, viral outbreaks have occurred all throughout history. Hardly an encouraging message, but thanks to the stellar cast and gripping subject matter “Contagion” is a film you will not want to miss.

Contagion is a Chilling and Gripping Thriller

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September 10, 2011
I was going to see this one, but we went to see "Warrior" instead. I enjoyed the write up, hopefully I'll like it, I should see it tomorrow.
 
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More Contagion reviews
review by . September 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Soderberg's Film About Viral Infection and The World's Reaction (Cough, Cough)
Steven Soderberg is one director who has a colorful and somewhat impressive resume; his best works include “Solaris”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Erin Brokovich”, and “Traffic” so I guess it would be easy to expect much from him. Soderbergh’s “Contagion” is a movie that can easily be ruined by expectations from its viewer. I tend to see a director as someone who is only as good as his last work, so I went to see it with an open mind. …
review by . February 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion" feels like a documentary film shot through the lenses of a gloriously high-quality film camera. Perhaps this is because in a sense, it kind of is. The film is about a deadly epidemic/pandemic - unidentified and initially untreatable - that starts to spread across the globe; from Hong Kong to Atlanta. The basic plot concerns a number of different people ranging from scientists to a blogger; all of whom react in significantly different …
review by . September 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Not life threatening
CONTAGION Directed by Steven Soderbergh   I’m not sure I can in good conscious recommend Contagion to anyone at all. It’s not that it’s a bad film; it’s just that seeing it has potentially damaging consequences on your psyche. About ten minutes into watching it, you might become hyper aware of your surroundings. Coughing noises will become amplified while your armrest might suddenly feel stickier than it did when you first sat down. In fact, by the time you’ve …
review by . September 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         In an age when medical thrillers are more about action sequences and gory makeup effects (Doomsday, the Resident Evil films), along comes Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, a cold, methodical, observant social commentary. It takes us through the stages of a worldwide viral epidemic with eerily convincing logic, and with disturbing emotional detachment. It’s not about the art of storytelling so much as the craft of depicting a medical emergency …
review by . September 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Contagion' 'Two Jews On Film' Are Immune To Soderbergh's Pandemic Thriller (Video)
By Joan Alperin Schwartz      An international traveler reaches into the snack bowl at an airport bar before passing her credit card to a waiter. A business meeting begins with a round of handshakes. A man coughs on a crowded bus.      One contact. One instant. And a lethal virus is transmitted.      Great premise. Great beginning. but unfortunately, that's not enough to make a great film.      'Contagion' …
Quick Tip by . January 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Major yawn. The only reason I don't add more minuses is the acting was solid despite the general weakness of the story. This was too much an "inside" movie to be anything close to a thriller and the conspiracy storylines were too weak to rescue it as a conspiracy type movie.
Quick Tip by . September 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Big cast, big story, big fear, lots of talk but little action. Despite being a big fan of Matt Damon, this is one movie where I don't think he excels in. In fact, you won't even notice he's there. Waste of talent, I feel. No punch. Not surprises. Nothing new here!
Quick Tip by . September 15, 2011
If you go see this, don't expect too much out of it other than an afternoon of entertainment. Yes, I say afternoon because to me, it's worth a matinee ticket but, not the whole thing. The cast was amazing but, I felt that though the story seemed to have a great arc, there were still a lot of questions that were unanswered. It did; however, make me a little more germaphobe and not want to touch anything    SPOILER ALERT!    Cheating, germ spreading Gwenny....what …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #112
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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Director: Steven Soderbergh
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: 9 September 2011 (USA)
Screen Writer: Scott Z. Burns
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