“Contagion” (2011): A One-Minute Film Review

Waiting for her flight in an airport lounge, the adulterous Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) is feeling a bit under the weather.  But she isn’t the only one.  In Hong Kong, a young man wanders back to his apartment, stricken with a delirious fever.  Then there’s the Ukrainian model in London, and the Japanese businessman in Tokyo.  All are crashing hard; and so begins director Steven Soderbergh’s most recent film, Contagion.  Modeled, in many ways, after his four-time Oscar winning masterpiece, Traffic, this new film is an evocative journey into germaphobe’s worst nightmare.

What makes this work so well is the casual intersection of stories that veer in and out of focus as the epidemic makes its way around the globe.  Where a lesser director might have succumbed to the desire to voyeuristically pump up the nightmarish body count, Soderbergh wisely shows a few intimate and unexpected deaths before driving the film to more elevated heights where we witness the medical community’s valiant attempts to combat a global pandemic.  By avoiding the morbid horror-movie stereotypes, Soderbergh creates something that is far more terrifying: casual, incidental contact.

I highly recommend this film as one of the best I’ve seen in 2011.

This film has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing content and language.

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9 Responses to “Contagion” (2011): A One-Minute Film Review

  1. Doug says:

    Definitely one of the best films I saw last year. Soderbergh is a master filmmaker.

    • He’s a hit or miss guy for me, with more “hits” than “misses.” I really enjoyed films such as “Traffic,” “Contagion,” “Solaris” (odd choice, I know!), “Ocean’s Eleven,” and “Out of Sight.”

      But then there’s the overrated “Erin Brokovich,” the bloated “Che” (parts 1 and 2), the so-so “Informant,” etc.

      Any chance you’ve seen “Solaris?” May critics disliked it, but there was something there that really intrigued me.

      • Doug says:

        Yep, I saw Solaris it seems quite some time ago and remember enjoying the claustrophobic ambiance Soderbergh created. I did really dig The Informant. I didn’t really dig Erin Brocko…

      • Doug says:

        By the way, did I just sound smart using the phrase claustrophobic ambiance?

        • You just made me think of one of my all-time favorite “Simpsons” moments. Having just been accepted to college, Homer takes a lighter to his “high school” diploma and begins to dance around his living room, singing: “I am so smart. S-M-R-T.”

  2. mahoneyrm5150 says:

    Plans for the bunker have been drawn up, and we are fully stocked up with food, water and ammo. That movie scared the crap out of me.

  3. Mary DeVries Yager says:

    I want your life. I have not seen a movie since “Dolphin Tale” and “Cars 2”. I spent my entire day trying to keep a small Korean boy awake in order to conquer jet-lag so he did not fall asleep in class again. (Praise the Lord…the OTHER Korea kid that came the same week as ours actually fell asleep and fell off of his chair in front of the entire 8th grade class – can you say THERAPY for life over that one??)
    OK – thank you for the recommendation. BTW, I am gonna check out some of the race books for my Cultural Diversity class.

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