Contagion Deserves the Hype

Nora Shychuk

Make sure you wash your hands.

“Contagion,” released September 9, 2011 is a film that everyone is talking about. Its gritty film style coupled with the nerve-wracking subject matter will definitely stay with you.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, “Contagion” tells the story of how easily a disease can turn into an epidemic.  It also follows the lives of six central characters, all somehow fitting in to the development of the disease.

A team of doctors, affiliated with the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, try to deal with the destruction of this disease, which is transmitted simply by contact. An ambitious blogger, played impressively by Jude Law, also has a part to play in the overall effect and spread of the disease, which does not fully expose itself until close to the end of the film.

All in all, this film is great. It is directed well and the script is to the point. The fact that “Contagion” does not stray away from the main plot with pointless romances or violence, makes this film very real. It goes from fact to fact, population to population, and illness to illness.

Richard Heiden, a junior Aerospace Engineering student at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, agrees of the “realness” in the film.

“It almost seemed like a documentary about the spread of an epidemic. It was uncomfortable to think how possible and easy it could actually happen,” he said.

Easy is right! The disease starts so simply that it is horrifying to think of how conceivable a situation like this could be. For the sake of spoiling the film, the source of the disease will not be revealed in this review.

All of the characters played a vital role in the film and had unique, believable performances; however, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Laurence Fishburne stole the movie. Each of these actors played their parts so effortlessly, that it was easy to feel that we actually knew them.  One of these characters does not see the end of the film, and their death is one of the more haunting moments in “Contagion,” which is more proof of how much their performance helped the film.

Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Marion Cotillard rounded out the principal cast with wonderful performances, too…just not quite as noticeable as the others. Their roles seemed to be sometimes forgotten, lost in the more immediate plot. However, all of the characters still work together, keeping the film and plot consistent.

Carolina Conte, the assistant professor of film here at Jacksonville University, agrees with the way the movie is put together.

“It has different stories that intertwine, creating a very interesting plot. Soderbergh is really good in making this work in film,” she said.

While “Contagion” wasted no time getting to the point and telling a story (which is refreshing-since films tend to beat around the main point), it also used great aesthetics.

Almost all the time, “Contagion” maintained an ashy and gray feel to it, certainly highlighted by the almost constant gloomy weather. The sun rarely makes an appearance in the film, and when it does, it is beautiful. The seemingly dull and dark shots in the film help to maintain the bleak subject matter of the film, which was super effective.

The shots were intelligently done as well. So many close-ups focused on objects, hands, and touching (which obviously is what spreads the disease). It makes the viewer expectant, sure, but also incredibly nervous and aware of how quickly an outbreak like this could become reality.

To sum it up, “Contagion” is smart. The script is sharp and undeviating, which definitely keeps the viewer intrigued and on the edge of their seat. If you are looking for a love story, or action adventure, go see something else, but if you want to prepare yourself for an epidemic, you could probably learn a thing or two. Remember, wash those hands.