Sure, a killer disease that resembles the symptoms of the common flu (except for the dying part) probably doesn’t sound like the most thrilling movie concept ever imagined, but Contagion’s success sprouts from much more than that.
The first thing this risky film has got going for it is director Steven Soderbergh, best known for very serious movies like ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ and ‘Syriana’, as well as some delicious off-beat humour such as in films like ‘Oceans Thirteen’ and ‘The Infomant!’. Contagion however adds to Soderbergh’s more serious film credits, as a deadly virus quickly starts to infect the globe with panic, confusion and conspiracies. So be warned, Contagion has no gooey centre of warmth and comfort – this film tells its story very frank, without any sugary coating.
The film’s serious nature is accentuated by a long list of very capable Hollywood A-list actors, that include: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and a few other faces that you are sure to recognise and appreciate as they imbue the film with loads of added credibility. Each character’s involvement in the overarching plot contributes to the film’s sense of seriousness and urgency, as people’s lives get turned upside-down once the severe scope of the virus is finally realised. Winslet and Fishburne are particularly brilliant, whilst Matt Damon managed to irritate me once again.
Soderbergh does a fantastic job of building the tension as things start quite slow and then quietly build up to a state of global unrest. Be warned however: there are no flashy action sequences to keep your attention. What you do however get is brilliant dialogue and honest emotional displays from the cast as they try to make sense of what is happening and how to deal with it. It’s this subtle approach that makes Contagion all the more scary, as you quickly realise that the events depicted can very easily take place in real life.
With all of this said however, the movie definitely isn’t for everyone and will find more appeal from critical movie-goers than it will from your average blockbuster fan. The main reason for this is that the film doesn’t follow any typical movie plot, with no real climax, romantic connection or a clear sense of fulfilment. In other words, it might even come over as quite boring, something that the courageous runtime will make even more unbearable for some. Nevertheless, it’s a sickly trip I recommend taking, even if it’s just for the sole purpose of knowing how to act when something like this happens in real life.
In short, Contagion is one of those movies that you will either love or hate. Personally, I felt it gave a very realistic, but grim picture of what could happen if the world is attacked by a deadly unknown enemy. I do think it could have benefitted from a bit more accessible and shorter scenes every now and then.
Highlight: It’s hard to pick one, but Soderbergh’s attention to the smallest of details is very evident throughout the movie and contributes immensely to the film’s overall impact.
This movie makes one thing clear: Deadly diseases can spread very easily...
Rating: 4 out of 5 Meerkat tails