Friday, 21 October 2011
An epic endemic..
12A, 106 Minutes. Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet & Demetri Martin. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns
There's something in the sweet and sour chicken. If you really want to scare yourself this Friday then forget 'Paranormal Activity 3' and go see 'Contagion' a flu-ridden film that's spreading like wildfire and will really leave people more paranoid at things that cough, rather than go bump in the night. What's most scary is what you don't see and as the virus spreads into a silent killer this bacteria causes more white faces than the bogeyman. Halloween's horror show has just knocked on our doors. Trick or treat?
This ensemble piece is lead by many big-name stars. No one is immune in this picture. Take your pick to who leads. Matt Damon brings his A-game acting and marketability to the fold. While leading ladies Gwnyeth Paltrow and Kate Winslet add more great performance to their clean, classic bill of credits. Jude Law also gets his word out as a blogger. While French actress Marion Cotillard also increases her star stock inbetween her twin Christopher Nolan movies, last years 'Inception' and next years 'The Dark Knight Rises'. It's Laurence Fishburne that really stands out however with his unique, one of a kind talent that injects adrenaline into the arm of this picture. Now if that isn't enough famous faces, how about adding Bryan Cranston and Elliott Gould (who here calls blogging "graffiti with punctuation", but hey we love him and he's probably right) to the mix?
As the deadly virus spreads, so does the panic...and of course the looting. As we are whisked around the world from Minnesota to London, by way of Hong Kong and all the way back to Chicago we see just how quick and easy flu and fear can transfer and multiply. With some serious silent montages and an unimposing soundtrack this almost feels like a public service information film and its time some of our dismissals got educated to just how bad things could get. That's how good this movie is.
Rest assured though this is just a movie, but master of the slow burner director Steven Soderbergh gives us calm drama in a clinical, precise piece, whose tone matches its theme. The dramatics are by no means amateur, the acting is understated but emotive in the overbearing nature of the subject. Yet again we see just how good Matt Damon is in the face of bad news. Apart from an unnecessary autopsy, this film gets it right on all counts. It may be unnerving and in some points not very enjoyable, but it's thought-provoking and necessary. This is subtle yet potent and powerful stuff that really is contagious. As Hollywood catches on with some socially conscious commentary it's time we took note. TIM DAVID HARVEY.