Films | Contagion – Movie Review

Contagion – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on September 10, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Gregory Jacobs, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Steven Soderbergh
DIRECTOR – Steven Soderbergh
WRITER – Scott Z. Burns
CAST – Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard
MUSIC – Cliff Martinez

Stories of deadly doomsday looming upon us are nothing new. Sometimes, it is a natural disaster, at others it is a villainous monster. Sometimes it is the monster within and sometimes a deadly virus. ‘Contagion’ uses the latter to decode the world and its beings.

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), returning from a business trip, only to succumb to an unknown ailment. Her son falls prey to it too, leaving behind a baffled husband Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) and baffled scientific authorities. Soon, it is discovered that an unknown infectious virus is on the prowl, victimising people all over the world. The crisis is looming large and spreading fast.

The world of Contagion is a real world with its rules, regulations and ways of working suddenly stripped of all its meagre importance in the face of impending death. Science is a struggling hero that health officials are depending upon. And this hero in its own turn helps reveal the hero in these men and women. If there is a Mitch struggling against chance to protect his daughter from the fate of his wife and son, there is also a Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) and Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) reaching beyond themselves to serve. And then there is the vigilante, blogger activist Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) for whom not much matters than his own limited perception of right and wrong. We are surrounded by people like him and when we see him we notice how deeply the director has drawn from real life.

Shot by the director himself, the film is visually appealing. The camera lingers significantly on surfaces, clearly pointing towards the over-powering nature of the infectious virus. It is a sober visual treatment the film employs despite weaving it as a thriller.

Steven Soderbergh invests a seriousness to the theme that lends it credence. The world he paints is authentic and checkered, much like real-life. There are no easy villains or heroes just a removed perspective of what happens to life when struck with disaster.

Unfortunately, this perspective remains a singular and narrowly focussed essay of human behaviour under trials. He manages to expose social and economic disparities we live in and how this undermines our values and identity but without a forceful or insightful enough perspective. It leaves us feeling a tepid dread and a déjà vu, both watered down reactions to subject matter that should ideally evoke a fatal horror and fear.


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