If you are a serious germaphobe, then I would not recommend watching this film, as a side effect of this would be enhancing your germaphobic tendencies. (Or alternatively turning into one after)
Between the rather tense thrillers of Solaris and Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh carried on his theme with Contagion. Bolstered by the all-star cast, including Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Bryan Cranston all putting in a collective masterful performance.
Soderbergh chose to plunge us immediately into the story, as he begins at Day 2 of the pandemic. He builds this suspense and tension fantastically as he quickly hops from country to country and city to city including London, China and Minneapolis.
This is only helped tenfold by the music as it is perfectly crafted and catered to each scene, helping the suspense build in time with the increased spread of the pandemic and of course with the ever-rising infection rate.
Due to the story of Contagion, there was never going to be a massive need for special effects. Soderbergh instead chose to funnel the story through centralised stories, with the bulk of it taken on by Dr Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) and the CDC. (Centre for Disease Control)
Soderbergh’s containment of the story is one of the biggest strengths, as instead of jumping around the globe to the affected areas, he reveals what is needed to know. Although Laurence Fishburne is the primary driving force, key parts of the story are still helped through by Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard, and how they are being being affected by this disease.
The continual suspense being buiilt is another of it’s biggest strengths, due to the second and triple guessing about the whodunnit element and who could in fact be the fatal patient zero. Although this film is pretty much a medical thriller, it still remains interesting. However, Soderbergh still offers a look into basic human instinct when everything goes to pot and the lengths humans will go to, to protect themselves and their families.
Soderbergh choice to focus on the interactions of people, whether that be handshakes, coughing in enclosed places or the handling of different things between people, only enhances this story. Now this is where the germaphobia begins to set in, as the characters onscreen begin to interact with things risking the chance of infection.
As the story wears on, it certainly doesn’t drag as it becomes interesting as we begin to see the lengths that Dr Cheever and his team go to when trying to halt the infection spreading and trying to find a vaccine. Laurence Fishburne assumes command of this story, but continually supported by a phenomenal cast.
Jude Law and Kate Winslet are infectious with their key performances to support Laurence. Jude as Alan Krumwiede, the fear inducing ‘truth’ reporter and Kate Winslet the field operative of the CDC, whom takes it upon herself to be on the front line and first defence.
This film nearly becomes a complete perfect picture, however, the irregularities in the story just slightly let it down. Often I am all for open-ended endings, but Contagion does not fall into this bracket for me as I feel there are just far too many questions left to be answered.
But standing at around an hour and forty minutes, the film is of perfect length for viewing, as it doesn’t drag on too much, it rather just reveals enough information to keep us hooked. There are huge strengths to this film, including the cast and the soundtrack, but I feel the way the story told is actually is the biggest strength in this film. As I said, Soderbergh teases enough of the story to keep the audience hooked and in suspense whilst the story plays out over the pretty much perfect running time.