Saturday, 22 October 2011

Contagion (2011)

Running Time: 106 mins
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Ehle
Screenplay: Scott Z Burns
UK Release Date: 21st October 2011 - UK

Quick Plot: After a lethal virus outbreaks across the world, it's a race against time to find the source of the deadly disease and a vaccine to cure it.

Review: Like Real Steel, I got the chance to see a sequence from Contagion at the Big Screen event back in August but little did I know that it was in fact the opening scene. With an opening close up shot of Gwyneth Paltrow's character, quite like a documentary style shot, the audience already starts picking up on small details Soderbergh hasn't made obvious. Instead, he's very cleverly structured the length and angles of the first part of the film in a regular manner because you are automatically watching what everyone is touching, breathing onto, walking past, coming in contact with. Because you know what the film consists of (a virus) you're trying to out run it, even though it's fictional, you're doing it without realising. You're trying to work out who it's infected and who will die. Contagion is not your usual horror/sci fi, but to put it simply, it is. It's not a film where everything is made clear either, you're left with a few unanswered questions which is what makes the film so intriguing. As we are taken to the big and infected cities across the globe, the titles make clear the effect this virus is having on human kind. The more centralised characters, Damon, Cotillard and Winslet, each have their different roles in successfully causing us fear from having a member of the family die because of the virus to them self being infected and dying. The thrill of this horror is that people are continually dying and they are not miraculously coming back because they are 'one of the main characters'. It's unpredictable in a who dies sense, but as it's Soderbergh, you know the film isn't going to get pleasant.
With no blood, extreme language or sex, the film has a moderately low audience rating but that doesn't mean Contagion isn't one of the most frightening films of the year. With quotes from the film that were used in the fabulous trailer, 'Don't talk to anyone, don't touch anyone', 'it's figuring us out faster than we're figuring it out' and the not-so-scary-until-you-think-about-it 'the average person touches their face 3-5 times every waking minute...' this is not a completely fictional film. Then with the truly terrifying scenes of panic erupting across the globe, in supermarkets, pharmacies, burglaries, Contagion could easily be a news reel we see at home. The brilliant tag line 'No one is immune to fear' shows the society we live in today. As soon as a big impact on our every day occurs that cannot be explained, people panic, evidently worsening the effects.
There's no surprise that the all star cast show their full talent on screen and it could be argued at that with the number of big names and thought out concept of Contagion that there is never enough screen time for any of the actors. Arguing back, there is enough for the film to be great based on their acting. As a regular joe, Damon doesn't have to fight, run away or kill anyone just as Winslet doesn't have to jump off a boat, fall in love or anything to show the extent that their acting can reach. The whole cast have individual roles in the world as the virus spreads, so they are each having to show different emotions and the dramatic impacts the virus has caused them. All as great as always, Winslet especially portrays the horrific truth about the virus, but it's the elegant Cotillard who steals it for me. Again, not having enough time as you hope for on screen, her character pieces together through CCTV (for us, flashbacks) of where the virus started and how it has travelled. She gracefully opens up your mind into the seriousness of the panic that is the world later on in the film and it scares you. Law and Fishburne have interesting roles and again make you realise how it's not only the virus that spreads quick, it's the fear.

With an undeniable fantastic ensemble, thought out concept and sense of realism, Contagion is frightening and powerfully captivating.

Contagion trailer
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1 comment:

  1. Good review :D
    Did you find Jude Law's accent stupidly annoying?! AND DID YOU SEE HIS TOOTH? UGH. It was distracting.


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