Last week I watched Perfect Sense and while it was a decent film it was really lacking that end of the world focus that I was hoping for from it. Fortunately for me, Contagion had exactly that vibe I was hoping for.
What it is: Contagion is a movie which came out last year and was directed by Steven Soderbergh who is known for directing films such as the Ocean’s trilogy, Che, and The Informant. Soderbergh is joined by a cast full of big names including Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Marion Cotillard as well as handful of other familiar faces. The movie is about a the progression of a new pandemic and follows several people from around the world battling and dealing with the disease.
Why I dig it: To be completely honest the story of Contagion is nothing original. While it does tweak the epidemic format a little with the multiple international perspectives it still comes down to being something we are all familiar with. Despite these few gripes, the film is fantastic.
A lot of the movie is about epidemiologists from around the world racing to find the cure and the style and feel of the movie reflects that. Contagion is fast paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat but in an effective manner that still allows for character and plot development. Because we are following several people trying to figure out and investigating the disease it immediately feels similar to a mystery or crime story which contributes to the fast pace. It’s like a mystery where the stakes are much much higher as well as feeling like something could actually happen.
The realism was one of the aspects that I really liked about it. It’s hard for me to specify what exactly it was in particular that felt so realistic about it but in comparison to other pandemic films such as Outbreak or Perfect Sense it just felt like something that could actually happen. From all the different perspectives it really feels like a global attack that people all over the world were struggling with. Perhaps this realism can be attributed to the H1N1 outbreak a couple of years back. The fact that we almost potentially went through an experience similar to that portrayed in movie is terrifying and really allows the audience to have an appreciation of the threat.
When looking at films that follow as many people as this movie it can often become cluttered and jumbled and somewhat hard to follow, but that wasn’t the case here. In fact the characters are all fairly well-developed and you grow to care about what happens to each one to them. Unfortunately all of these different character’s story arcs are somewhat shadowed by the main progression of the disease, the main focus of the film. While this isn’t a major problem it does take away from the weight of each individuals actions as well as decreasing suspense and anticipation in these underlying arcs. I found myself less involved in each character’s story because ultimately it was the outbreak that I really cared about.
All in all Contagion is an awesome movie. The entire team of actors deliver great performances and help contribute to the films intense and dark feel. While its arguable that the story is simple and somewhat predictable, it is still fun and engaging and will have you coming away from it a little more aware of how much you touch your face. I definitely recommend Contagion not only to those epidemiology fans out there.
One last note, the movie starts on day 2 which totally threw me off. I honestly thought that I had started like ten minutes into it and restarted it three times to make sure I was starting at the right point. Turns out it was just me being stupid.