Contagion (2011)

Contagion (2011) – A couple of years ago, there was a big scare over the H1N1 virus, or “swine flu” (or something like that, my recollection for specifics of medical news items from three years ago may not be one hundred percent accurate). In the end the scare was revealed to be disproportionate to the actual threat. The problem is, a massive pandemic is something that as a country we are not particularly prepared for. Steven Soderbergh’s new thriller Contagion explores this as society collapses due to a mutated strain of the bird flu (or something like that). The movie doesn’t go quite as bleakly as it could have, but it still paints a grim picture of our unpreparedness.

The film has an amazing cast, including Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle, Elliot Gould, Demetri Martin (?), John Hawkes, Bryan Cranston, Sanaa Lathan, Enrico Colantoni, and THREE past Academy Award Winners for Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Marion Cottilard). It’s an ensemble piece where major characters can die early in the movie (if you’ve seen the trailer you know that at least one of those people listed above exists almost solely to die). The greater part of the movie is not guessing who will or won’t get sick but seeing the way people react to a potentially cataclysmic pandemic. Some people try to protect whatever family they have left (Damon), other do all they can to try to fix things (Fishburne, Winslet, Cottilard, Ehle), and others are shameless opportunists (Law). Contagion isn’t quite the movie it could have been but it’s still gripping entertainment.

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