By: Oberst von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Your wife comes home from a business trip in Hong Kong, and within twenty four hours dies of internal hemorrhaging. You get home from the hospital in time to watch your son die of the same symptoms, and now you’re surrounded by the sick and dying and can think only of caring for your only living relative, and keeping her healthy. Later a medical investigator tells you that your beloved dead wife was cheating on you. Millions are dying, millions more are rioting. Now it’s time to kick back, gather around the television, watch Romeburn and clean your shotgun, because you know what time it is…
In Contagion, the latest opus from director Steven Soderbergh, human nature is put to the test when a new disease strain threatens to destroy society as we know it. The film divides its time covering the exploits of doctors around the world as they fight to find an effective vaccine (notably Laurence Fishburne and Marion Cotillard), a paranoid blogger (Jude Law), and a family man (Matt Damon).
Soderbergh weaves each story together tightly into an engrossing narrative that is as plausible as it is frightening. A great deal of care is taken in minute details to make the medical investigation process feel authentic, but manages to keep from feeling sterile. A lot of love has to be given to the cast, who handle the material with poise and strength. Matt Damon in particular is heartbreaking as a man who has lost nearly everything he cares about in life, and desperately clings to what is left. Director Soderbergh avoids the pitfalls of maudlin personal drama, instead focusing on cold realism. Jude Law is also worth noting as the blogger Alan Krumwiede, who under the guise of a truth-seeker hides his greedier characteristics. And he’s totally a Bond villain.
So there’s that…
In the film, a World Health Organization doctor is kidnapped by Chinese dissidents who hold her hostage so the vaccine will be delivered to their village first. The film doesn’t comment on the incident again until very near the end of the film, and when they resolve the plotline, they leave far too many ambiguities. The Doctor becomes sympathetic to their situation while captive, but without showing any real reason for this, other than Stockholm Syndrome, and sweet little children.
Worth a look, but don’t blame me when you walk out of the theatre thinking you caught the Motaba Virus or something. There, I made an Outbreak joke… satisfied?
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime obscure medical terminology takes up an entire sentence
Take a Drink: whenever a skeptic doubts the experts
Down a Shot: when you realize that the movie has made you a hypochondriac