Thoughts on Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Contagion’

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Last Friday, we saw Steven Soderbergh‘s “Contagion” on opening night. It was exciting to see so many people out on what turned out to be a slow weekend for film. I didn’t quite know what to expect going into the film — reviews were good, but claimed the film emphasized the clinical aspects rather than the emotional.

While I agree that “Contagion” looks predominantly at the scientific and logistical exploration of how an epidemic would spread throughout the human population, I found the emotion in the minute interactions that occurred. We see Laurence Fishburne‘s character Ellis sacrifice his career simply to get his wife away from the cluster of sickness in Chicago. We observe Kate Winslet‘s fear at that first cough in her hotel room. And in the penultimate scene we witness Matt Damon finally grieving the loss of his wife after the initial craziness has passed.

My boyfriend and I argued about this scene — he felt it out of place, I thought it was an indication of the return to normal life — and we weren’t really sure how to understand it in the greater context of the movie. I do think that Scott Z. Burns wrote an incredibly tight script, and he cut it down according to news reports (I personally would’ve liked an extra half-hour or so tacked on to the end).

In other words, “Contagion,” to me, is the first great movie of the year that combines an odd concept with everyman sensibilities, making it something that everyone can like and appreciate. The other films I’ve loved this year — namely “Jane Eyre” and “Tree of Life” — are absolutely not for everyone. If you get the chance, get out there and see it.


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