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Contagion movie poster

Contagion: Movie Review


Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle, Bryan Cranston, John Hawkes, Elliot Gould, Sanaa Lathan
Released by: Warner Bros.


In Short: Fear strikes close to home — even inside the movie theater — as a deadly virus begins to spread across the planet in director Steven Soderbergh's seriously scary new thriller.

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YIKES!

This Outbreak Is Way Too Real

Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh isn't usually known for scaring the bejesus out of his audiences. Until now. The helmer of froth like "Oceans Eleven" (and "Twelve" and "Thirteen"), serious flicks like "Erin Brockovich," his trophy winning epic "Traffic," and my personal favorite, the classic "Out of Sight," hasn't exactly made a horror movie with "Contagion," but it is actually way scarier than any slasher flick.

It all starts off innocently enough. Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to her Minnesota home from a Hong Kong trip, and she is not feeling well. As she greets her husband and young son, she's gone from slightly ill to very sick, almost in the blink of an eye. And so it begins, as the "Contagion," a deadly unknown virus she has contracted, quickly begins to spread across the globe.

Soderbergh has crafted a fast-paced film, which is quite a feat considering that much of the action takes place in laboratories, at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, the World Health Organization and in Hong Kong, where the scientists and officials tasked with finding (and stopping) the outbreak discover the origins of the virus. But there are people on the street, too, that fuel the action, for as the deadly disease moves across the landscape, fear, violence and chaos ensue.

Marion Cotillard in Contagion Laurence Fishburne in Contagion

It posits an all-too-believable scenario, which is what makes it such a terrifying movie to experience. Plus, Soderbergh has chosen a first-rate cast to bring his story to life, from Matt Damon as Beth's grieving husband (who is somehow immune to the virus); Laurence Fishburne as a CDC executive; Kate Winslet as his second in command, who goes into the heart of the first American contagion to study the virus; and Marion Cotillard as a WHO representative who heads to Hong Kong to find the source. Jude Law gives an edgy, believable performance as a blogger who stokes the developing hysteria via the Internet and recent Oscar nominee John Hawkes continues to prove his acting prowess, in an understated role as a father just trying to protect his son from the certain death the virus brings.

One thing is guaranteed: if you are already a germaphobe, this movie will send you into a tizzy. And if you happen to be sitting next to someone who is coughing throughout the movie (like we were), you'll be ready to run screaming from the audience long before the credits roll, making sure not to touch a single surface as you go. Be afraid, be very afraid.

 

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

 



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(Updated: 09/08/11 CT)

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