The latest film from the Academy Award winning and prolific American director Steven Soderbergh, famous for such excellent films as The Limey (1999), Erin Brockovich (2000), Traffic (2000), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), Solaris (2001), The Good German (2006), Che: Part One and Two (2008) and The Informant! (2009)  is a chilling, detailed and realistically smart look at what would happen if an aggressive strain of a deadly virus were to wipe out a large part of the population on earth in less than a year.

It’s frightening and shocking because the premise, although fictional, is based on real science and actual possibilities that have and are occurring today. Soderbergh’s style of filming is well suited to this type of film as the Oscar winning editor Stephen Mirrione edits quickly and smoothly between many cases around the world as the lethal virus spreads at a phenomenal rate. 

He doesn’t simplify things for us as we get a quick education in biological pathogens and shows us a very detailed account of the people, agencies, medical procedures and logistics involved in a pandemic of this scale. We are also shown how easily and quickly, through human contact, a virus can be transmitted and spread.

Known for his use of the star studded cast, he has again employed here a stellar ensemble cast of Academy Award winning actors including Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard. The story is so compelling and the performances so engaging and natural, that use of well-known actors doesn’t detract from the effect of the film. There are not many directors who can pull that off well but Steven Soderbergh is one who can, and in fact it seems to be his specialty if you look at his body of work.

This movie does for viruses what Jaws (1975) did for beaches. Stay away from people and don’t touch anyone or anything without protection. It’s a particularly relevant and topical subject as we are dealing with superbugs and virus epidemics like SARS, H1N1 and Bird flu. I was definitely more conscious of where I’d been and who I’d been in contact with after seeing this film. Everyone should see this film because not only is it an eye opener, but it’s also a very well made and entertaining film dealing with serious issues.



Anonymous said...

Nice review. It sounds so good that I probably won't see it. I've reached that stage in life where I'm looking for less things to be worried about. ( ;
I your comment about big name actors and their impact on most films. I know what you mean.

Sandra McLeod Humphrey said...

Actually, I wasn't going to see it, but I guess now I will. Thanks for the review!

The TV Czar said...

Solid review. I am always leery of films that utilize a large amount of "star power." I think Ocean's 13 was one of those situations where there was too much star power. Somehow, they handled it better in 11 and 12.

Nonetheless, I'm glad it worked out for Contagion. Damon's my favorite actor, so I am willing to support whatever he's got going.

Jeannette Paladino said...

I haven't seen most of the movies that will probably be up for Academy Awards, including Contagion. That's high on my list so I appreciate your review. I don't know if you reviewed "The Artist." I thought it was terrific.