Lara and I went to see this movie last night after already watching a somewhat scary movie, Super 8 (which was fantastic, incidentally). We both had a feeling this movie would be scary, but we weren't entirely sure what to expect from it. It starts off on Day 2, showing a woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) sitting in an airport. She starts to cough and doesn't look as glamorous as I've usually come to expect. By the time she gets home, she is shaking, unable to hold a coffee cup, and is rushed to the hospital where she promptly succumbs to the sickness and dies. The world slowly becomes aware of a new virus that has spread to various parts of the country, starting out very small, but quickly increasing as more and more people become exposed. The worst part is, scientists are having a hard time duplicating the virus in order to create a vaccination. From the time you contract the disease, you have about 2-3 days to live. Needless to say, within a few months about a tenth of the population is 6 feet underground, being buried by people in radiation suits to avoid contamination
Despite its association with disaster films, this movie is incredibly smart. Lara and I were surmising on the trip home that whoever wrote that screenplay must have had a great deal of scientific knowledge. There are a lot of medical and scientific terminology that will go way over your head, but it's definitely to the movie's credit. It adds a sense of reality to the proceedings, even leading me to believe that its depiction of America's response to such a situation is probably not very exaggerated. It's a very intelligent and intense thriller, brilliantly directed and almost perfectly acted, which isn't too surprising after taking note of the star-studded cast. Matt Damon, Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, and Marion Cotillard are all at top form, forming cohesive and well balanced performances.
As you can expect based on the subject matter, this film is not for the faint of heart. There are some very disturbing sights of people that have recently been killed by the virus, so be warned if you're susceptible to gore or frightening images. The epidemic portrayed is enough to scare you out of touching your face for a week.
I can't really say how much I enjoyed this movie, but I cannot deny the talent that is being displayed here, or the effectiveness of the themes that are being told. It's the best disease outbreak movie I've ever seen, and possibly the best disaster movie as well. Despite being so frightening, there are also a few genuinely touching moments that help ease the tension slightly. The ending will possibly give you a little whiplash, but I cannot deny how powerful this film is. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Lara gives this movie three stars, but I have to rate it a little higher than that. I give Contagion three and a half stars.
CONTAGION is rated PG-13 for disturbing content and some language.