Friday, September 9, 2011


We open with a woman coughing at an airport bar and the camera makes us keenly aware of germs being spread as we see closeups of money being handled and a bowl of peanuts on the bar. This will be the onset of a viral epidemic that spreads at an astounding rate and kills its victims within a matter of days. After the woman and her son whom she passes it along to perish, we follow her immune husband and daughter and on a broader scale we follow several doctors working for the Center of Disease Control as they try to contain the disease, trace its roots, vaccinate against it, and control the widespread mayhem that ensues as they epidemic spreads. "Contagion" is an extremely focused and terrifying film from Steven Soderbergh working from a germaphobic script by Scott Z. Burns. Soderbergh again works with a large budget and A-list cast, which is where I feel he does his best work, and his handling of this material, which could have been dastardly, is executed tensely and brilliantly. The cast includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow (in some really disturbing scenes), Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle (excellent), and John Hawkes, all contributing nicely. I've read reviews stating that Law's blogger character who profits off the epidemic detracts from the plot, but I thought it fit in nicely, as did Cotillard's Hong Kong subplot, with the screenplays attempts to show the many different angles a catastrophe like this can bring. "Contagion" is an extremely intricate and unnerving film that is sure to yield high returns for the people at Purell.