I always love seeing movies that will make me think long after I have left the theater. Steven Soderbergh's Contagion is one of those movies. I was engrossed throughout the film and can not seem to stop thinking about it.
The film stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne and Sanaa Lathan. The story follows "the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart." That is a bit of the official synopsis, but it is really much more than that.
There are so many layers to this film, and much more than just a film about a disease. The script was penned by Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Informant!). You would think that characters might be lost in the shuffle, since there are so many. Each character is having to deal with the world crumbling and are forced to make decisions that they normally would not have to make. There is an underlying theme that I picked up on throughout the film, risk taking and rule breaking. Each of the characters were faced with personal decisions that forced them to break the rules in order to save their lives.
Contagion is scarier than you might think. Not in the sense of jump out-of-your-seat scary, but scary in the sense it's a slow burn. I felt a sense of urgency during the entire film. Almost like I was back in school taking a difficult test with only a short amount of time to complete it. What scares me the most is that this type of pandemic could actually happen. The initial response to the virus was a mix of disbelief and by some and calm calculated moves by others with a ton of red tape.
Soderbergh is a master of capturing situations in a manner that is real and easy to relate. This movie felt like I was watching someone with a video camera capturing everything that was going on in each scene. The various angles and close up zoom used really does a great job of drawing me into each scene. I loved Cliff Martinez's score for the film. Martinez has been working with Soderbergh since his first film Sex, Lies and Videotape and is a former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer. This score uses electronic elements that do a great job of setting the tone of each scene.
Each actor stands out and puts in a phenomenal performance. I wish that we would have had some closure to Marion Cottilard's story, but I guess that is left up to us to decide what happens. Law did a good job, but I hated his thick accent. It seemed as though he relied on it and his messed up teeth to make his character unique. Damon, Fishburne and Winslet are great.
Contagion is a movie that audiences should see in theaters because of it's epic scope. The film does not have a ton of action, but contains high levels of tension throughout and some wonderful dialogue from Burns. This is a Soderbergh gem that will live on for me much like The Limey or Traffic. This is one disaster movie that makes you think...and makes you want to go home and wash your hands!