Certificate 12A, 106 minutes
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law
Contagion is a medical thriller about the spread of a virus called Meningoencephalitis Virus One (MEV-1), its spread around the world an the efforts to contain and cure it. After a trip to Hong Kong Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man 3, Mortdecai, The Avengers) becomes sick. Her husband Mitch (Matt Damon, Elysium, The Monuments Men) rushes his wife to hospital after a seizure.
The film tells several different stories from different viewpoints of the crisis; that of Mitch Emhoff and his daughter Jory (Anna Jacoby-Heron), an ordinary family caught up in the spread of the virus; from that of Dr Eillis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne, Man of Steel) and Epidemic Intelligence Service representative Dr Erin Mears (Kate Winslet, Divergent, Insurgent, Triple 9), both from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; from World Health Organisation representative Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard, The Dark Knight Rises) who goes to Hong Kong to try to track the initial spread of the disease; and from the point of view of blogger, and by the sounds of it conspiracy theorist, Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law, Hugo, Side Effects).
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Contagion_Poster.jpgFrom Hong Kong where Beth Emhoff caught the disease, it starts to spread rapidly from people she came into contact with - an employee of the hotel in Hong Kong, from a Japanese businessman to Tokyo, in Chicago where her plane had a layover. As the infected people come into contact with others, the disease starts to spread rapidly, first one, then two, then four, then sixteen. The disease is spread by fomites, which are any inanimate object or substance that can spread a disease. First the infected person touches a surface or subject, then someone else touches the same item transferring the disease. With both Hong Kong and Chicago in the United States (where Beth Emhoff had a layover) being major transport hubs the disease is quickly carried to countries all over the globe.
Attempts to create a cure are ineffective, as the researchers are unable to breed the virus in laboratory conditions. Without a sample to experiment with, a vaccination is impossible to create. parts of the US start being quarantined and the National Guard is called out to enforce it. As time passes without a vaccine being found, the bodies start to mount up and coreners start being cut. Under normal circumstances, even after a viable preventative measure has been found, it could take years to get it approved for release. When a disease is spreading as rapidly as this, taking months to check a cure isn't an option.
Contagion goes some way to showing how quickly a disease could spread across the globe with modern transport networks and how quickly society can start to break down, especially as fear starts to spread. Although millions of people become infected around the world, many of whom later die, if a truly dangerous disease should start to spread things could be much, much worse. It's not a bad medical thriller, although it isn't as truly frightening as it could have been, although there is a tendency for films to go too far the other way. Probably not the type of film to watch if you're paranoid about diseases though.
Certificate 12A, 106 minutes
- "Fomite." Wikipedia. 4/04/2014