You know when someone talks about head lice and you involuntarily start scratching? Contagion does the same thing with coughing. While sitting through the screening, every time someone on-screen coughed, a member of the audience would start coughing as well, then the person next to them would get paranoid about catching something and cough themselves – this basically went on for the whole movie.
In that sense, Contagion will actually scare the shit out of most. It plants an idea in your head that “This could really happen!”
It deals with a deadly virus that breaks out and spreads by mere touch, so no matter where or who you are – there’s no escape. Contagion explores different human reactions and behaviour through parallel stories, as characters around the globe deal with love, loss, hope, panic, protection, prevention and greed.
The individuals involved are divided by ‘the good, the bad and the helpless’ – with those trying to find a cure, those trying to profit and the rest of the population just doing what they can to survive.
Just like he did with Ocean’s Eleven, Steven Soderbergh has gathered an all-star cast with the likes of Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow andLaurence Fishburne, among others. However, not many of them share screen time, as the movie continually jumps from story to story.
Damon is awesome as always, playing a grieving father trying to save his family, Law is surprisingly unlikable as the weasely blogger trying to defy science, Winslet and Fishburne share a genuine chemistry and Cotillard keeps going from strength to strength, with many big-name directors utilising her obvious charm.
The reason Contagion works so well, is that it avoids being another ‘global disaster movie’. There are no unnecessary special effects or ‘what’s around the corner?’ type suspense. The characters and their actions seem realistic, and the documentary-style puts you right in their shoes.
While slow in places, Contagion will have you hooked from the very first cough, spatter and death. Just make sure you drive a car to the cinema, as you’ll find yourself avoiding public transport for a few days after.