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Movie Reviews




Released: 9th September 2011

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Stars: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne

Certificate: 12

Reviewer: Kyle Coleman

I didn’t realize how much I touch my face until I sawContagion. This film may very well have been meant as a sort of scare tactic and, while I’m personally not susceptible to the fear that’s spread, I expect that a large audience of movie-goers will be. If you panicked at all during the H1N1 “outbreak,” this will definitely hit close to home. If you don’t subscribe to that brand of mass hysteria, you need to flick off your pessimism switch and just enjoy the film like I did.

“The wrong bat met the wrong pig” is the explanation for the novel virus in this film that does not yet have a cure. After a handful of people across the globe show similar symptoms and fall prey to the disease, the leading disease control centers worldwide mobilize to stop the spread and invent a cure. Contagion follows six main storylines, sometimes intersecting, that track the disease from differing viewpoints: the origin, the spread, the containment, the search for the cure and the media coverage. Suffice it to say, there is a full scale, global epidemic that threatens the lives of all seven billion people on earth.

The ensemble cast (Damon, Paltrow, Winslet, Fishbourne, Cotillard, Law, Cranston) disallows an overabundance of screen time to any one character, which serves the film’s circuitous nature very well. The scale of the film starts minimally focusing on Damon, then escalates along with the disease to incorporate all the characters, ultimately ending back with Damon and his grief. This stylish direction was the most impressive part of the film, and Steven Soderbergh deserves to be commended.

Soderbergh knows his way around an all-star cast like this one (Ocean’s films) and devotes the right amount of time to each character so that their motives and actions are understood. In each character and situation there is nice commentary on human nature ranging from compassionate emotion to heartless self-preservation. The compelling characters and their roles in the story of the virus made the 105 minutes absolutely fly by.

As solid as the direction and acting were, I couldn’t help being soured by the grander implications of the film. There were heavy handed messages of government and big business meddling–putting their bottom line over the health and survival of the earth’s people. On top of this, there was a sort of defense to the culture of fear that pervades the media, to which I didn’t take too kindly.

If you can overlook these messages and just enjoy Soderbergh’s fast-paced direction and slew of solid performances, you’ll probably enjoy this film like I did. Hell, if you agree with the messages, you’ll probably love this film. In any event, Contagion is definitely well made and absolutely worth a trip to the theaters.

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