Movie Review - Contagion

A woman contracts a deadly disease and she spreads it to various people who pass it around the world. That woman is Beth Emhoff, played by Gweneth Paltrow. Matt Damon plays her husband, Mitch, and in the trailer, one line of dialogue that's stressed is Mitch screaming at Beth's doctor, "What happened to her? What happened to her!" But, as this slick, Steven Soderbergh film proves, it's not about what happened to her or the mystery of the disease, where it came from or why it's spreading. This movie is about depicting the realities of what an outbreak or epidemic like this would create.

The story mainly follows the officials of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. One of the top officials is Ellis Cheever, played by Laurence Fishburne. He's the one who coordinates various efforts, which include containing the outbreak and finding a cure.

Key to containing the outbreak is determining where it started or at least who brought it to the United States. Dr. Erin Mears, played by Kate Winslet, is dispatched. She goes to Minneapolis where Beth and Mitch live. Beth is the first American to fall ill of this unknown disease. Beth, however, recently came from a trip overseas to Hong Kong, and while she may be the first American, she isn't the first person overall to contract the virus.

Marion Cotillard plays Leonora Orantes, an agent with WHO who travels to Hong Kong and China to track the origins of the disease. Her translator Sun Feng who comes from a small, Chinese village that has been ravaged is desperate for her help and that desperation motivates him into doing crazy things.

This becomes true for everyday people once the outbreak gets worse and it does get worse. After a while, this film begins to feel like a horror movie where you're just waiting for people to die. Only, the serial killer is microscopic. Despite a couple of really intense moments, this movie isn't a thriller. Soderbergh makes it cold and clinical, which is probably the scariest way to do it because it doesn't matter who the actor is. The deaths come indiscriminately.

But, the movie doesn't seem to be about any one, particular thing, or have one centralized message. Unlike Outbreak (1995), this movie lacks focus. A more apt comparison would be to Soderbergh's 2000 film Traffic, but with Contagion, the director is juggling way more plotlines. The opening of the film establishes threads in at least a half-dozen, different cities. Some of those threads don't tie up at the end. The film overall becomes diluted.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for disturbing content and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.


Popular Posts