For Reel

Contagion (2011)
February 15, 2012, 6:45 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Paranoia spreads rapidly through the streets, conspiracy theories gain steam on the blogosphere. And there’s also that killer virus. As a film about mania, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is remarkably collected. In dealing so thoroughly with governmental and medical officials, the picture is more about rationale and reason than, as is typical, the chaos that occurs in the life of the common man. Soderbergh’s most lasting images are not of bloodshed and riots, but of scientists in laboratories. That isn’t to say that he doesn’t have his fun now and then – a subplot involving young teens in love is familiar of the 70s and 80s horror pictures influenced by a fear of sexually transmitted diseases, such as David Cronenberg’s Shivers, and the close-ups of communal bowls of peanuts, door handles, and the grotesque treatment of sneezes and sniffles, are completely shameless. For all that it does correctly, however, it would appear that neither Soderbergh nor screenwriter Scott Z. Burns knew quite how to tie things together. A plot line involving Marion Cotillard never quite performs, and the final moments involving Laurence Fishburne and Matt Damon wrap up half-conceived subplots with unearned sentiment. Nevertheless, Contagion is a reminder that if Soderbergh does retire after his next few pictures, mature movie-goers will be losing a lot.


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