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.