With the engaging preview of Contagion doing the rounds on cable for the past couple of weeks, my curiosity had been whetted as to what all these A List actors were doing in the same movie. When I was asked by SI to review Contagion today, I was not going to be the one to say no!
Contagion is a simplified enactment of how things unfold during global health epidemics such as SARS or Swine Flu.
It’s also about how FEAR spreads faster than anything else and how FEAR could result in breakdown of civil society as we know it.
Contagion touches upon several facets of a global health disaster like politics, bureaucracy, conspiracy theories, fear of bio-terrorism etc. without going in-depth into any one aspect. It scratches the surface and when you start focusing, it moves on to something else.
Some Key Plotlines
This Steven Soderbergh bio-thriller starts with Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) returning to her family in Minneapolis after a business visit to Hong Kong and a short rendezvous with her lover in Chicago (which makes little/no difference to the movie). She is taken extremely sick shortly and Mitch (Matt Daemon), her husband, admits her to the hospital where she is pronounced dead. Beth’s young son contracts the illness and dies.
Around the same time, several other people also die exhibiting the same symptoms. The spread of this respiratory disease soon reaches epidemic proportions.
Dr. Cheever (Lawrence Fishburne) from The Center of Disease Control and Prevention leads an investigation into the deaths. Dr. Mears (Kate Winslet) runs the investigation but soon contracts the same deadly disease and dies.
The WHO launches an investigation by sending Dr. Leonora (Marion Cotillard) to Hong Kong to find the genesis of the disease assuming Beth as the first contractor. She is able to trace a bunch of the initial dead people to have come in contact with Beth in Hong Kong in a Casino. The Chinese Official helping her with the investigation comes to know that America is trying to find a cure. He kidnaps Leonora and holds her to ransom to get ahead of the line when the vaccine is ready.
Alan (Jude Law) is a freelance blogger / journalist who holds the opinion that the Government is in bed with pharmaceutical companies to make money from this opportunity and suppress an existing Homeopathic cure. His 12 million followers believe his theory.
Mitch is quarantined and then later released as his body is immune to this virus. His daughter from his ex-partner comes to stay with him and he spends the rest of the movie trying to protect her from the virus and depicting an ordinary man.
What I liked
Strikes Fear into your mind.
Contagion shows how delicately we are balanced in nature and how weak Man is against the power of the invisible i.e. Virus.