Movie Review: Contagion

By Andrew McManus

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow

Runtime: 106 minutes

Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing content and some language)

Release Date: September 9th, 2011

Streaming options: Available to rent (Vudu, Amazon, Etc) Hulu

As the Bob Dylan song goes “The times they are a-changin” Obviously movie theaters are closed. Restaurants have been reduced to take-out and delivery. Self-isolating is become more and more frequent. I couldn’t suggest going out and sitting in a large theater while we are going through this pandemic. I had planned to do an older film for you. Seeing as theaters are now closed, we are changing up this column for the foreseeable future. Going forward I’ll be reviewing a film or TV series you’ll be able to watch from home. With students out of school as well I will look for “kids films” as well. This film was a no-brainer to start off our streaming segments. It originally came out in 2011 but watching it again with the climate we were in was a bit of a shock. I HIGHLY encourage you to watch it.

Onto the film.

We open with text on the screen saying “Day 2” We meet Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) in an airport. She’s talking to her lover and its conveyed that she’s leaving Hong Kong to go back to her home in Minneapolis to her husband and son. Yes you read that correctly. The film then starts to zero in on movements and contact between people. I felt this film works well at immediately making the viewer become conscious of who’s coming into contact with who. There is tense music throughout and it adds to the mounting issue. There is now a disease being spread.

Emhoff gets home to see her husband Mitch (Damon) and she’s tired but attributes it to jetlag. We see her come into contact with her son. (This is important) We then start to meet the other characters that come into play. In Atlanta at the CDC we meet Dr. Ellis Cheever (Fishburne) and Dr. Erin Spears (Winslet) its known that a virus is out there and they are working to find out how and why.

We then meet Alan Krumwiede (Law) he is a free-lance writer trying o get a story published. It’s clear is leans more towards conspiracy theories and rumors but whats the get the story out before the others. The films goes back and forth between these

stories showing how they all come together for this crisis. We see how things are done politically, we see news conferences (We in real life are seeing them daily now) and we also see how it hits everyday families.

Back to the Emhoff’s. It’s been 2 days and Beth (Paltrow) is extremely ill she falls and has a seizure as her husband rushes her to the hospital. A bit of a spoiler but she dies and the images of her convulsing before her husband is rushed out truly had my hand over my mouth in shock. Everything is now ramped up. We see a BIG movie star dying 15 minutes into the film. As a viewer you now realize this is serious and as we see in the scenes going forward it spreads and it spreads fast.

On the technical aspects of this film. It was interesting to see how the filmmakers created such tension with a disease. Throughout we key in on movements and how contact is made and you start to watch actors closely to see who or what they have touched. The acting in this movie is top notch as well. Matt Damon portraying a devastated husband and father was heart-wrenching. The scene where he is told his wife has passed away feels so real and I’m sure similar conversations happen on a daily basis. I was worried the inter-workings of all of these characters would cause confusion but surprisingly it flows well and cuts to different segments at the right time.

I believe this film not on draws you in with the situation but truly helps you learn too. Scenes showing how the disease is spread were for the most part accurate and shows how easy it is to spread. As I said earlier. I encourage you to watch this film and help see the importance of isolation, and ESPECIALLY of proper hygiene. This is not to induce panic or make a mockery of what we are ALL going through. Whether you are now a displaced worker, struggling to find childcare, a meal, or even just adjusting to our current living conditions (Can’t go dine-out or like in this case go to the movies.) it is hard across the board but we are ALL in this together. I hope in the coming days and weeks we can get a handle on our current pandemic and life can slowly get back to what we know and love. In the meantime hunker down, and take some positives. On that same note lets all do what we can to support local business. Order take-out. Check on your neighbors. Be a light when things are dark.

Contagion – 5 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus