Frankly, I wasn’t that interested in Contagion but Michelle wanted to see it and we haven’t been to a movie in a while so, after dropping the boy off at his babysitter’s (who, conveniently, is one of the women who watches him at his day care/school), we headed to the mall.
I was pleasantly surprised (and supremely creeped out) by this movie. I think the word I would use for this movie, in pretty much all respects, is “honest”.
Contagion is a movie about the rise and spread of a previously unknown disease with a 100% mortality rate in the people who get it and opens up with Gwyneth Paltrow coming back from a business trip from Hong Kong, revealing she’d cheated on her husband while away, getting progressively more sick and then, pretty graphically, dying of whatever she caught.
Which is quickly followed by the death of her, and Matt Damon’s character’s, young son.
And with a shot of the dead son’s face, the tone of the movie is pretty much set.
Like I said, Contagion is probably the most honest and non-hysterical/overly-dramatized of the “super-bug”/plague movies I’ve seen. It builds slowly with confusion and misinformation among the general populace and we get multiple views of the steps that organizations like state health departments, the CDC, and the WHO would take in figuring things out. Slowly, over-time, situations worsen as more people die, the disease spreads, and the movie does a really, really good job of portraying the effects the disease has on people, the frustration of groups like the CDC can feel where they are hampered by their technology and lack of understanding, even though they wish to help, as well as the helplessness of the populace that is, in some ways, at the mercy of the timelines and abilities of those people who are supposed to protect them from some things.
There’s no rapid-spread of the disease throughout the world, people don’t immediately fall to barbarism and selfishness (although that is shown, in various ways, later). The government doesn’t immediately become some kind of bumbling idiot (although individuals are) or completely totalitarian (that comes later). Like the line from “The Hollow Men”, “This is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper”.
And then there’s Jude Law, who plays an opportunistic blogger/conspiracy-theorist who I just wanted to punch in the mouth. Over and over and over again.
The cast of this movie is a pretty nice mix of talent and I think all of them did a fantastic job who, in my opinion, gave genuine portrayals of the situations they find themselves in from Laurence Fishburne breaking protocol and warning his fiance to get out of Chicago before it’s quarantined to Matt Damon’s bumbling/well-intended protection of his daughter.
Yes, “honest” is definitely the word I would give for this movie.
The only complaint I really have is that there was one plot line they introduced, which I felt added a nice human element, that they really never resolved. It’s just left hanging at the end of the movie and I’m wondering if other scenes were cut.
My recommendation? See it. You don’t need to see it in the theater because there’s nothing in it that will be lost if you don’t watch it on the big screen, but definitely see this movie.
And then never shake another person’s hand again.