Fri 26 Jul 2013
Having seen a few weeks ago Side Effects I was reflecting that maybe Steven Soderbergh would not necessarily do a bad thing taking a break from directing. Well, I had not seen ‘Contagion’ yet, one of his previous movies. To use the terms of the story in this movie, the origin of the disease can be traced way back.
The world is in danger in Contagion as a deadly flue virus originating (where else?) in South-East Asia is spreading around the world, killing first individuals, than thousands, than millions. Governments, corporations, the World Health Organization, become all engaged in a race to find the roots of the disease, to stop its spreading and contagion, to find a cure. The problem with the film is that there are too many threads, none of them extremely interesting or surprising, some going nowhere. For example a researcher seems to have found a cure but is ordered to stop research and destroy the samples – we never learn why, last time we see him he seems to disobey the orders and then he just disappears for the rest of the film. An Internet blogger and journalist claim that cure exists and proves it on its own body, but this thread never connects with the rest of the film. If the purpose of director Soderbergh is to show chaos on screen he did succeed, but it’s more film-making chaos than everything else. There were a few moments when it seemed that the film heads towards showing the impact of a catastrophic disease on the fabric of the American society, but these were also wasted in too expected scenes of army in the streets and supermarket plundering, lost and forgotten soon enough, as brave scientists discover the cure and test it on themselves to speed the solution. The script is disappointing, a collection of TV soap episodes concentrated to a few minutes each and badly interconnected.
The cast is certainly impressive. Heaving on screen in the same film Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and a few other who would alone hold a movie on their shoulders is certainly a performance for the producer and a pleasure for spectators. Fans should however be warned that some of them die young in this film, and none has the opportunity to play a role that will be remembered for a long time. Despite the gathering of talents Contagion is a confusing and chaotic film.