Entries tagged with “Steven Soderbergh”.


Having seen a few weeks ago Side Effects I was reflecting that maybe 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.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/

 

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.

 

(video source movieclipsTRAILERS)

 

The cast is certainly impressive. Heaving on screen in the same film Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt DamonMarion 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.

 

 

 

 

 

For us, folks living out of the United States there seem to be two institutions that govern strongly the lives of our American friends: the courts of law and the shrinks. While tribunals are institutions that for most people out of the US seem to be equal to being in trouble and lawyers a category of people to avoid, a little more acceptable than the gravediggers, the American way takes easily its conflicts into courts, and lawyers seem to be on the top of the social and wealth scales. Same for psychoanalysts, with the process of going to one being considered to be a social and personal necessity even for the not so rich in America, and the sign of some malady or deep trouble elsewhere. Actually in ‘Side Effects’ Jude Law does not hide at all his native British accent as he plays shrink from the UK who comes to Manhattan in order to be able to exercise his profession as a honorable one. He works hard, he seems to succeed and then he meets trouble.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2053463/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2053463/

 

Trouble comes under the shape of a young and troubled woman (Rooney Mara) whom he meets in hospital after she tried to commit suicide. She has a history of such troubles and even more reasons now, as her husband (a white collar offender) got out of jail and was trying to find his way back to the world of investment. Like everybody around doctors, patients and everybody else knows about psychotic drugs, the shrink tries some, they do not work, try another experimental one, it seems to work … and then she kills.

It’s just the start of a film that changes a few times tone and direction approaching successively a few themes – the obsession of the American society with shrinks and related medication, the ethics of using experimental drugs, the relation between shrink and patient, and a crime story which also changes angles and develops towards an unexpected but also an incredible outcome.

It is not really clear what kind of movie Steven Soderbergh wanted to do. He observes well the medium and cinematography is very good in emphasizing the atmosphere and the stress the characters go through. The crime story he relies on is however too complicated and not only the ending is hard to accept, but also some of the key details on the road. Are we supposed to believe that a doctor who was involved in the medical past of the patient, and who may be suspected of malpractice because of allegedly using an experimental drug with unexpected side effects will not only be accepted as an expert witness in court, but also continue to be trusted as the personal psychoanalyst and supervisor of the accused after she is condemned to be interned into a mental institution?

 

(video source Movie Trailers)

 

IMO, acting is not stellar either. Rooney Mara conveys at the beginning the fragility of a troubled mind to the point that I found hard to believe the final twists. Jude Law with his face stoned in one expression only for the whole film (with just his beard growing, cheap way of showing men in trouble in movies) is ‘only good’, which is relatively bad for this splendid actor. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the worse – a miscast which cannot be believed neither as shrink nor as lover.

It is said that director Steven Soderbergh declared this will be his final film. I really hope this is not true, this would be for me a poor ending to a career that has seen much better achievements.