Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running Time: 106 mins
Contagion is an American film about the spread of an unknown virus across the entire world in one of mankind’s greatest epidemics, and the attempts of the CDC to find a cure to this lethal virus before it pushes humanity to extinction.
I have to say that this film is surprisingly brilliant. It has all the qualities for a cheesy summer blockbuster, but what it actually is is an intelligent, incredibly realistic and fantastically thrilling detailing of the effects of such an epidemic on our planet.
I went into this film expecting a generic thriller, with too much focus on action than any real story, but it immediately proved me wrong, with an absolutely harrowing sequence right at the beginning, as you see extremely graphically the effects of the virus on its first victims.
And then, the story just escalates continuously to absolute chaos. The main thing that was so impressive about this film was how realistic it was in showing the political side of dealing with this sort of international epidemic.
There’s one story following the officials at the CDC (Centre for Disease Control), and how they are desperately trying to find a vaccine for the still unknown virus to satisfy the public, and through their eyes, you not only get a sense of the danger of the disease, but the monumental political effects that this can have.
The film also takes on the form of showing six or so different, unrelated stories of people trying to cope with the damages of the virus in all different circumstances, and that really helps you to get a sense of the scale of the epidemic, and how it manages to affect absolutely everyone everywhere, making it not only more intriguingly realistic, but also more exciting, as you begin to develop connections with so many individuals that the epidemic becomes oddly personally impacting.
However, it’s not only the fantastic realism of the story that is so impressive, but it’s also the harrowing and rather gruesome portrayal of the virus that really puts a huge psychological impact on you, which is particularly frightening to watch.
The only big problem with this film is the ending. For all its well-paced, well-written parts before, the end feels just a little bit rushed. Because there are so many different individuals in the story, it’s obviously going to take a while to tie up loose ends, but the film tries to do this in about 10 minutes, which just isn’t necessary; I would have happily sat through another 20 or so minutes of the film while it was ended swiftly, but on the whole, the film is actually very good, and that’s why it gets a 7.9.