Cast : Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard
Director : Steven Soderbergh
The film begins on a day 2 and Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth) is shown sitting at Chicago airport bar, coughing and visibly sick which she mistakes as being jet-lagged, while returning to Minneapolis after conducting some business in Hong Kong and a 5-hour layover at Chicago. Next we are shown that she hands over her credit card to the bartender who also moves the glass touched by Beth and we know that whatever Beth was suffering from, has just been passed on.The next day, at home, her husband (Matt Damon) has no idea what to do when she convulses and falls on the floor. She passes away after few treatments and doctors are unable to come up with a valid explanation as to cause of her death, for which they extract her blood and examine her dead body for further details.
Unfortunately, their son catches on with the bug too and he too passes away before Matt could even reach home. He is detained and checked up for he was the last man who had touched his wife and son and the disease mainly spread by touch. Apparently, he is immune to this disease and he is safe from the bug. Yet he becomes overly-protective of his daughter and takes extreme care of keeping her safe.
Soon, similar cases of deaths due to convulsions are reported from Macau, China, Tokyo, London, America, and is feared that it could rapidly spread to almost all parts of the world. So begins the wild-goose chase for the cause of the deaths and the vaccine for the bug by centers for disease control (CDC) and WHO.
Beth is labelled as the first patient to be the victim of the bug and extensive investigations are made to find out whom she had been spending time with.
Furious investigations are launched by Dr.Cheever (Laurence) who also sends Dr.Mears (Kate Winslet), an epidemic intelligence officer, to Minneapolis town to investigate the source of the disease. The facts that she puts out about the rate of spread of the disease, astounds the in-town officials and audience alike and paranoia plus horror fills their hearts and minds.
Dr.Orantes (Marion), an epidemiologist with WHO, conducts various experiments to come up with a solution for the same, even self-tests her vaccine, as there is not much time to be lost over experiments to prove the credibility of the vaccine created. Unfortunately, she is unable to find the cure before her father, infected with the same bug, passes away.
As the facts are discovered, the officials have to keep them a secret lest public outcry and fear should spread among the common man. But Alan (Jude Law), an internet blogger with millions of unique visitors, is determined that the government is hiding something and tries to break open on the secrets and the facts that are cleanly hidden by the officials. His posts and views on the internet only increase the paranoia among the common public. Though he is arrested, he manages to come out on a bail.
As the number of infected persons increases, so does the panic, anger and hysteria which results in the banks and grocery stores being looted, mobs rioting the food ques, cities being quarantined. Flights are cancelled, road-ways are cancelled, no intra-state travel allowed. Mobsters turn violent and start looting and killing people.
After around 135 days, the vaccine is invented, tested positive to cure, and passed on to the public to save whatever population that could be saved.
In the most chilling and probably the best scene of the movie, how the bug actually started on day 1 is shown.
Contagion is no less than a horror movie (sans the frightening background-score or ghosts or vampires), sending many shivers down your spine as you wonder, what might happen if something of such sort actually happened in near future.
The film also completely shakes you and moves you and you start wondering about all the people and things you touched before coming to watch the movie. (scary like shit!)
The movie creates panic and fear in you and then Steven, the director, nicely plays with it and completely unnerves you. Kudos to his technicality.
The film has nice star cast in Matt as the windower, Laurence, Kate and Marion as the doctors/scientists/investigators and Jude Law as the blogger, who gets to speak the cheesiest lines of the movie. But the main character of the movie is the villain, the virus and film revolves around it and not around any of the stars.
Steven’s work is worth applauding and manages to sustain multiple story-lines at a time. Though there are so many stars, never a single character steals away the glory from that of others. All the characters are equally important to the movie and none is over-shadowed or under-shadowed.
One of the best movies of the recent times. a treat for all the Steven fans. A must-watch.
But, watch it only if you can handle it, it can and will leave you disturbed.