This movie is definitely not one for the germaphobes, and in the bathroom after the film, people were scrubbing their hands maybe a bit more vigorously than usual. With a cast of many A-listers, Contagion will do well at the box office, as it should: it’s an interesting take on the global virus phenomenon, and it shows how the country and its people might eventually deteriorate if such an outbreak were to actually happen.
There are a few different stories going on during the film. Mitch (Matt Damon, “The Adjustment Bureau”) and Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow, “Country Strong”) live with Mitch’s two children from a previous marriage. Beth comes home from an overseas trip to Hong Kong and is not feeling well; it’s clear she has something serious when she has a seizure and dies two days later. Mitch’s son soon has these same symptoms, and quickly dies as well. Mitch, luckily, is immune to the disease, but is still kept at a hospital for further testing.
Meanwhile, Alan (Jude Law, “Repo Men”) is a blogger with a huge following, who believes that a dose of the plant Forsythia is the cure to the disease. He believes he has the disease, and he takes forsythia and his symptoms go away. He’s anxious to talk to any “bigwigs” he can about it, and he sets his sights on Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne, TV’s “CSI”), who is trying to find a cure. Cheever is working with Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”) and has sent her to Minnesota to work with others in coming up with a cure.
In yet another storyline, Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard, “Inception”) has been kidnapped in China for a ransom–her kidnapper wants his village to be safe and wants the cure from the U.S. government.
Confused yet? In addition to all of these A-listers, Demetri Martin (“Take Me Home Tonight”) and Elliot Gould (“The Deal”) play other doctors/scientists, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a cameo as himself. The film kept moving throughout at a steady pace, but I almost wish they would have chosen only a few stories to focus on. For example, Cotillard’s character is seen in the middle of the film and then not again until the very end, and by then I had already forgotten about her story.
Yes, see this film. It’s scary to think about if this actually happened–think a much more widespread SARS or H1N1–but what’s even scarier is at the end, when they show “Day 1” and how Paltrow’s character contracted the disease, and how she spread it. Most people don’t think about how many surfaces we touch in a day or how many people have been there before us, but this movie showcases it all, and it will make even the most carefree person think twice about health and hygiene.
Contagion is in theaters today, September 9th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 102 minutes.
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