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Review: Contagion

Steven Soderbergh's latest feature, Contagion, looks at the spread of a deadly disease and the various health teams posted around the world trying to control it, as well as those directly affected by it. Essentially, it's going to make you never want to touch anything again.

Contagion is a fine addition to the medical thriller genre, it's essentially told like the spread of a disease in a zombie film, however Soderbergh's direction and Scott Z. Burns's script make this a far more realistic and dark experience. Soderbergh makes excellent use of a variety of point of view shots and close-ups of everyday items that come into contact with many people - showing how easy it is for viruses to spread: elevator buttons, money and glasses are just some of the items to come into question, as well as being repeatedly told that the average person touches there face between 2,000 to 3,000 times a day. I knew Contagion was effective as every time someone coughed in the cinema, I squirmed a little. It's an extremely thought provoking and unnerving piece of cinema.

There's also the inclusion of a very current debate about the commercialisation of healthcare, that raises some incredibly prominent issues facing certain places in the world today.  This is explored through an interesting subplot featuring Jude Law's blogger-journalist character, who truly steals the show. The cast is truly faultless with striking performances from Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard and Elliot Gould to name but a few. Sometimes it does feel like certain characters could have been fleshed out and are lacking a bit of development, however, I've yet to watch an ensemble film that doesn't suffer from this problem.

The characters are all fairly interesting, with the idea of these people working under such intense pressure as death/infection rates climb making this exciting viewing. There is the occasional emotional moment such as when Matt Damon's character breaks down at the loss of his wife, towards the end of the film - however there is not a huge abundance of these emotional moments which could have certainly added more to the character development. Although a worthwhile experience, Contagion, it's fairly downbeat and at points it would have been nice to see a little more lightheartedness or occasional touches of soft humour.

However, it's hard to deny that Contagion is a fairly solid addition to Soderbergh's CV - posing some incredibly relevant questions and turning the normal into something quite terrifying. Strong direction, a realistic script and faultless performances really make Contagion stand out in the medical-thriller genre. It also reminded me of a film called Blindness starring Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal which might be one to check out if you enjoyed this.



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