Directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Scott Z. Burns and staring a whole host of well-known faces such as Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law to name a few.
Contagion is a story told from many different people’s perspectives, from the ordinary working class, to the scientists and then finally to government officials. A disease has broken out and is quickly killing those it infects, with no idea where it’s come from scientists have to act fast in order to create an antidote for it.
Let me start by saying two things, firstly it’s rare to have a star-studded cast such as this, involved with this kind of genre of film. Secondly if you’re going to see this film because, like I have read numerous times online, you think this is a 28 weeks later style film. You’re wrong, yes a disease spreads throughout the world killing people, but no this is not a disease which controls you and makes you move, it causes coughs followed quickly by a stroke which kills you.
This film is fascinating in many ways, firstly from a scientific point of view of how these thing develop and mutate, which I don’t believe has been shown before in this genre. Then it lets us look at how, after a very short period time, people become savages and do anything to survive which makes sense and is realistic.
From the Start of the film we are given both the number of days and the population of each country, just to get a size of the problem. It also allows us to see how many days it takes to reach each stage of the virus. The music is superb at maintaining the tension throughout and is used effectively.
One of the main problems films like these face is this, you begin with the virus becoming a real threat and this is interesting, the problem comes from maintaining this interest without just becoming about the end of the world and utter chaos. This film manages to maintain that air of importance and grips you throughout.
One affect this film will have on you is that from the first couple of minutes in you will notice every hand to hand contact, every time some one touches their face, each other, various objects around the room. In short this film is the living nightmare for anyone with OCD as afterwards you will want to wash your hands extremely well. This is the mark of a good film is it not ?
Matt Damon plays a man who has first hand contact with ground zero , in this case Gwyneth Paltrow’s character. He is somehow immune to it and his job from there on is to simply survive but is our way of looking at the civilian reaction to the virus.
Jude Law plays, for some reason, and Australian journalist who uses his online blog to become a prophet for people by giving us an insight into how the internet is affected and used during this time. Why he is Australian I do not know, though he does a good accent for the role, it seems a little out of place and bizarre choice for the director to have made.
Laurence Fishburne plays a government scientist working closely with the Whitehouse and is our insight into the political way of handling this. He plays his role well, even if some of the government decisions against him don’t seem to make a great deal of sense.
Kate Winslet plays a scientist tasked with finding out the cause of the virus by going to ground zero and finding out who had contact with her. This role I felt was slightly underused as it was a great performance and interesting character.
Without spoiling it, the ending is very clever and well thought out and answers a question i certainly had from the very start.
I know I said that this film is not like 28 weeks later and it’s not, however there is a very similar feeling given in a few scenes when the pandemic is at its worst. With shots of abandoned public areas and streets lined with wreckage from shops. It does feel like the beginning scenes of 28 weeks later.
OVERALL**** An excellently made film, intelligent, gripping and brilliant allround. Recommended for all.