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Contagion

Contagion: Snoozy and Overcrowded Action Film

  • Gwyneth PaltrowJude Law...
  • DramaScience Fiction...
  • Steven Soderbergh
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Contagion: Snoozy and Overcrowded Action Film

Swine
flu and bird flu have combined and mutated into a highly contagious virus that
kills one out of every four people, throwing scientists, doctors and
politicians into a tizzy as they try to contain the epidemic while tracking
down its source and developing an effective vaccine before all social order
breaks down.

Starring
a bunch of the biggest stars nowadays, Contagion
has too many characters and too many threads. Each one of the actors has their
own separate story arc, resulting in too many stories that the film is not
successful in juggling. Keeping them all straight in your head is something of
a chore. The characters tend to
disappear from the film for lengthy amounts of time and by the time you’ve
forgotten about one character and whatever they were doing, they’re just about
ready to show up again. Also, with this number of characters, not one of them
gets fleshed out properly. In addition, what is supposed to be the biggest
happening in the film (the development of a successful vaccine) is as anti-climatic
as climaxes get. You don’t really understand that this is how/when the vaccine
was developed until around fifteen minutes later.

Due
to the crowded nature of the film, the characters don’t really have much to
work with; though they do well with what they have. Fishburne makes the biggest
impression as a doctor heading a team working on a cure. Under as much pressure
as he is, he has to reassure the public while debunking the rumours that people
such as Law’s blogger character insist on spreading over the internet. Law’s
character would have been highly interesting had we been allowed to see a bit
more of him. Through his blog, which reaches millions of people, he casts
aspersions on the authorities working on a cure, making out that they’re
working towards their own goals, which conflict with those of the general
public. He also champions a homeopathic drug called Forsythia, which he claims
is the miracle cure that the government is not investigating in the first place,
causing a lot of trouble for the government and for Fishburne’s character in
particular.

On
the plus side, the film’s idea is pretty great. As opposed to other end-of-the-world
films this is a scenario that doesn’t seem far-fetched in the slightest. After
seeing how swine flu and bird flu terrified the bejeezus out of us with schools
closing down, people going around wearing masks, carrying hand sanitizer and
snatching up whichever miracle cure was available at the time, Contagion hits really close to home. It
portrays an amped up version of what we’ve already been through; what happens
if the next highly contagious virus is the one that puts an end to the world as
we know it? 

Another
high point was the makeup. The infected people look absolutely terrible; grey
and wan like they’re one cough away from croaking. While the characters talk a
lot about how bad an epidemic this is, it’s the makeup that really sets the
scope.

Contagion is a PSA about the importance of personal hygiene.
Basically, millions of people died because one chef didn’t wash his hands after
handling an infected pig before shaking hands with a customer. If you’re
anything like this reviewer and her friends, you’ll come out of the cinema not
caring much for the film but slathering your hands in sanitizer.

Like This? Try

I Am Legend, Outbreak, Children Of Men

360 Tip

Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Gywneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet are all Oscar winners while Laurence Fishburne, Elliott Gould, John Hawkes and Jude Law have all been nominated for the award.

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