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Sunday, October 30, 2011

[8.75/10] Contagion (2011)


Contagion (2011)

Full review: One of the finest film-makers in history of cinema, Steven Soderbergh, brings us his latest sci-fi horror thriller that follows the rapid progress of a lethal indirect contact transmission virus, which kills within days, and an international team of doctors who struggle to deal with the outbreak. "Contagion" is so much more than just another 'deadly virus' movie. It's a social horror that warns us about many little, yet important things in life we barely pay attention to, such as basic hygiene habits, washing our hands, touching our face and having contact with dirty surfaces like door-handles, elevator buttons and bus hand grips. Probably the best thing about "Contagion" is that absolutely nothing about it feels exaggerated or implausible. The movie believable and incredibly realistic from beginning to the end, and that's what makes it as disturbing and terrifying as it is. If something like this happen in real life, this is exactly how things will look like - panic, chaos, fear and frustration among the population, and millions of dead people. Considering Soderbergh's pedantry as a director, unsurprisingly the technical aspects of the movie are just as brilliant. His direction is taut, sharp and near flawless, and deftly balances a few parallel plots that blend together exceptionally well. The pacing is smooth, the editing is pitch-perfect, the original music score is phenomenal, and the movie itself is gripping, cleverly-written and absolutely riveting. Shot in various different locations, "Contagion" is as visually versatile as it gets. The settings are as breathtaking as they're grim and realistically post-apocalyptic, and director's trademark 'hot/cold' type of cinematography alternates bright, yellow-tinted scenes with muted blue-tinted ones. The true highlight of the movie is definitely the final "Day 1" scene, which is fantastically-shot and delivered, and gives answers to many unanswered questions about the virus and its spreading. The film has a stellar ensemble cast that includes one of the best actors and actresses working today, and their performances are so as equally as good, that nobody really outshines anybody else. Well, almost. Gwyneth Paltrow gives a great and very credible performance as the Beth Emhoff - a working mother from Minneapolis, who is also the supposed patient zero. Matt Damon is far from amazing, but he gives an above average performance as Beth's husband and caring father, Mitch. Marion Cotillard once again proves she's a true chameleon, and does a fantastic job in her role as Dr. Leonora Orantes, and Laurence Fishburne is typically solid as Dr. Ellis Cheever. Jude Law also delivers as the bold and cocky blogger Alan Krumwiede, but it's the sensational Kate Winslet that pretty much steals the show as the dedicated, fearless and determined Dr. Erin Mears. The supporting cast is just as great, with Jennifer Ehle, Monique Gabriela Curnen and Bryan Cranston being the standouts.

Overall summary: Brilliantly-filmed, contagiously-compelling, subtly-terrifying, and elevated by its top-notch cast and intelligently-written script, "Contagion" is not only one of Soderbergh's most remarkable achievements, but also ranks amongst the best and most memorable virus-themed movies ever created.

4 comments:

Melissa Bradley said...

I don't like virus movies unless they have zombies in them because I always imagine myself getting sick as I watch. I start to cough, feel achy...LOL I've imagined myself with many a disease just from reading the symptoms. It's not a headache, it's a tumor with me.It's ridiculous, I know, but I can't help it.

I will try and work up the nerve to watch this as your review is wonderful and I love Steven Soderbergh.

Nebular said...

Just like you, I like virus films to be zombie-ish, though this one was more terrifying than 28 Days Later, I'm A Legend and Cabin Fever put together. :)

I'm a hypochondric myself, so I can understand how you feel reading the symptoms, hon. :) It's ridiculous, but as you said, we can't help it.

You should definitely see this one, as it is nothing short of incredible. Thanks for the lovely comment, sweetheart.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Soderbergh's pedigree as a director guaranteed this movie would be powerful and effective. That's part of the reason I skipped it in the theater - that and it was just a busy time in my life. I decided I'd see it on the smaller screen instead.

Nebular said...

Alex, I expected it to be very good for that reason, but it exceeded my expectation. I saw it on the big screen, but thankfully it was an early noon screening and the theater was almost empty. You should give it a shot as soon as you can. It's absolutely compelling and so well-made.