Contagion - I'm Impressed

Ensign Lestat suddenly rediscovered Blogger!

I've come to the conclusion that I watch way too many films, but do very little after. So, here I am trying to make good on a New Year's Resolution I don't think I even bothered to make - write film reviews!

So here it goes. I watched the trailer for 'Contagion' not so long ago and was stunned to see the host of international Oscar Nominees/ Winners acting in it, not to mention seeing Steven Soderbergh back in the fray.

The film begins innocuously, as we follow Gwyneth Paltrow's Beth Emhoff as she takes a flight back home. We see that she is a little under the weather. We are then thrown into a montage sequence where we follow an East European woman, a young man in Hong Kong and others, all of whom appear to display the same symptoms as Beth.

As seen in the trailer, Beth soon passes away, but not before Jude Law's character attempts to inform a newspaper that there has been an instance in Tokyo of a man falling gravely ill. The story is not picked up by the newspaper.

When more and more cases of sudden deaths begin to occur, the CDC, Lawrence Fishburne's Dr. Ellis Cheaver and Kate Winslet's Dr. Erin Mears start looking into the matter. The scientists at the CDC try and analyse what this virus is, while Dr. Mears investigates as many possible cases as she can.

We follow these characters and several others as this disease escalates to epidemic levels.

The film is shot in the same style as Soderbergh's 'Traffic' - it has the same documentary look as well as the vast number of characters and storylines, all of which are interwoven. All the storylines are interesting and engaging, and what I found most impressive was how real some of the incidents in the film felt. Even in crisis situations, there will be people who are greedy, unhelpful, condescending and the like. It was fascinating to watch what could unfurl if this occurred in reality. I especially liked the Hong Kong story featuring Marion Cotillard and Chin Han - some grave truths told there. Even the rather simple, familial story of Matt Damon's Mithc Emhoff trying to protect his daughter from the disease feels realistic and massive.

The acting across the cast is spot-on, I cannot fault anyone, and I think that is what really drew me into the film. That and the writing, of course. Scott Z. Burns certainly knew what he was doing when he wrote this script.

I won't say this film is enjoyable - it's never fun to watch a world in panic. But it sends some powerful messages that unfortunately maybe preaching to the converted, only. However, I feel it's a must-see for everyone, not least Soderbergh fans.


Louis Skye said…
I thoroughly enjoyed Contagion as well. The acting was brilliant and the story really gripped me. Humanity has been pretty close to being wiped off in the past few years with avian and swine flu, so the film has certainly come out at a decent time (it won't scare anyone but we can appreciate the anxiety).
The music was really good as well (how strange to watch two films almost back to back, both scored by Cliff Martinez). It had the kind of other-worldly quality that this film needed. It was disturbing when heard along with the film, but on its own, the music is quite catchy, you could almost dance to it.
I was glad the director added human flaws to this script. You had the exceptionally brave characters, like Kate Winslet's Dr. Mears, who keeps inspecting the infected despite the danger of contracting the illness and thus, finally dies. You also had selfish characters like Jude Law's journalist, who just wants attention even if it's by misleading millions of people about the medicines that can cure them. I really liked Laurence Fishburne (can one ever not?), who is a wonderful, calming presence (he will be sorely missed on CSI) and always believable. I loved how, just as any normal human being, he warns his fiancée about the dangers of the flu before telling others. I also like how he redeems himself later, by giving his allotted vaccine to the janitor's son.
At the end of the day, this a film about human beings, their mistakes, and their triumphs. Hope Soderbergh keeps up his good form because I really liked this film.

Check These Out