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Contagion - Film Review

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by Matt Elliot Taylor (subscribe)
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
Event: -
Theatrical Poster (Copyright Warner Bros)

How often do you wash your hands? How often do you use some kind of sanitiser? Do you take care to ensure you don't get sneezed on by someone close-by on the train? Contagion will make you ask yourself these questions. Steven Soderbergh's latest film is the story - told through the eyes of several key characters - of a deadly disease outbreak that could potentially infect the world's population. But don't worry, no-one turns into zombies or flesh-eating maniacs.

After a virus known only as MEV-1 begins to spread, inflicting seizures and other equally bad symptoms, doctors and health researchers from around the world desperately try to contain it while trying to create a vaccine that will treat it. At the centre of it all is Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) who pursues somewhat less-than-moral means of containment, grieving family man Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), who has lost his wife and son to the disease, and freelance journalist Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) whose conspiracy theories and political outrages continue to fuel the already tense situation.

This quiet thriller is not your traditional natural disaster film, but rather an exercise in humanistic reaction to a global problem of a primal nature. Soderbergh dissects our most basic hygienic fears and scepticisms while still managing to remain objective enough to not blind us from the bigger picture. With almost no soundtrack apart from little ominous sections of low-filter beating that strangely emulates a heartbeat, and a stagnated and dispassionate cinematography it leaves the harrowing nature of this frightening spread wide open for us to bare witness to. Because of this it unfolds in an almost documentary-like nature, moving at a steady but realistic pace, despite the fact it drags in places as a result. To fill in the blanks is a stellar ensemble supporting cast that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston and Marion Cotillard, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion is unsettling in its realistic and relentless depiction of a deadly and violent sickness that plagues the Earth.

Fans of Soderbergh will get a great kick out of this engaging film, especially those familiar with his earlier film Traffic [2000] because it follows a very similar narrative structure. Don't expect an edge-of-your-seat plot turn around every corner sort of thriller but rather a genuine and lifelike story (or stories) that reminds us of the importance of hygiene and that one toxic breath into fresh air can send a society into widespread chaos, making no-one immune and everyone a potentially host.

***1/2 out of *****

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Why? See an engaging and realistic thriller
When: From September 9 (USA), October 20 (Australia), October 21 (UK)
Where: Your local cinema
Cost: Check your local cinema for details
This movie looks like it could be quite the watch. I would love to see how Jude Law and Matt Damon both go in this genre of film. Thanks for the review, I will most definitely be watching it.
By Alexander Lewandowski - senior reviewer
Saturday, 22nd of October @ 03:56 am
This sounds like a pretty good movie. I love a good scary type of movie every now and then. I saw the trailer but didn't really know what it was about. Thanks for a nice review on it. I will watch it when I get the chance but probably not in the cinemas.
By David - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 2nd of November @ 10:51 am
Excellent review. I've seen the previews on t.v., but your article and clip has inspired me to go see it.
By Simone Lee - senior reviewer
Friday, 4th of November @ 02:12 pm
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