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