Monday, September 12, 2011

"Contagion" Review ****


The best horror films don’t need a ton of gore or a knife-wielding psychopath to invoke bone-chilling terror.  Case in point: “Contagion,” which was number one at the box office this weekend.  “Contagion” is unique in that, like the box-office juggernaut “Jaws,” it taps into our deepest fears in a subtle but highly effective way.   The plot is plausible, the storyline absolutely compelling and the actors are Academy Award winners and nominees.  It doesn’t get much better than that. 

“Contagion,” is the story of a quickly evolving virus (we’re never really told what kind it is) that kills millions of people. Anyone who comes into contact with the “index” patient, whether it be through a hand shake or by touching a martini glass, a cell phone, or a door handle, can spread this deadly virus. “Contagion” will bring out the germaphobe in even the most stubborn critics.

Kate Winslet stars along with Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Damon is intense and stoic, a man who fiercely protects the family he has, despite his incredible losses.  Winslet, an official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the image of an overworked, run-down woman.  She has a very difficult job, as she wades into the web of victims, trying to keep the virus from spreading.  Law is a freelance journalist, desperate for the truth or maybe just for millions of hits on his blog.  Grim and commanding in his role, Fishburne works with doctors at the CDC to find a cure and Cotillard, polished and romantic, is a part of the World Health Organization, aiding those who suffer in other parts of the world.  As for Paltrow, her performance is truly haunting.

The few “flaws” in the film aren’t necessarily the worst kind.  There are parts of the story that are ambiguous, which I think lend to the story, not take away from it (what the virus is, for example.)  Oddly, of all of the places the virus touches across the world, from Chicago to Hong Kong, one major city is never mentioned: New York. 

In the hands of different actors and another director, the film wouldn’t shine so brightly in its sickly way.  Scenes are played out with depth and humility, nothing too saccharine or overacted, as is the case with many a disaster flick.  "Contagion" is a masterful blend of disaster film and horror film.  It hits all the right cords, perhaps a little too well.  It will surely cause you to think twice before your next handshake.

Starring Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, John Hawkes, Jennifer Ehle

Rated PG-13 for "disturbing content and some language"

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Written by Scott Z. Burns

**What effect did this movie have on you?
*Which part upset you or moved you the most?

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1 comment:

  1. I feel like I've lived under a rock since being away all summer so it's really great to get your reviews!! I told Kate we gotta go see this movie it sounds really interesting. As soon as I do I'll let you know my thoughts.