Friday, September 23, 2011
Awesome. Can you recall the last time that you participated in a movie? I got up to use the restroom about 40 minutes into Contagion and covered my mouth with my fist to cough. I felt guilty. I washed my hands thoroughly and took extra care not to touch the door handle to the restroom. It was amazing to be that involved with what I was watching. It's an engrossing ensemble drama that consistently asks a interesting question: When the health of our populace is threatened, how scared is too scared? Terrible things continually escalate in proportionate and disproportionate reactions from the all-star cast. None of the stars play it too strong. I was immediately aware of the skill in direction, acting, and writing. It's a quiet film. It's not a flashy film. It's absolutely stylized. There are a few times when the score clashes its mighty flares a kin to a Hitchcockian melodrama. It looks cold and certainly not unintentionally sick with all it's hospital whites, damp yellows, and winter blues. However, it's restraint and assured pacing shows its pedigree. Contagion seems to frequently be compared to Outbreak, a film to which Contagion only really relates in its most basic conceits. Outbreaks was a medical and military thriller, whereas Contagion is quite content to be a medical and political drama grounded in its diverse characters. Maybe it could have used more infected monkeys, but I don't think so.
"The circumstances depicted in Contagion are terrifying, but the power with which the film is made blends the horror, as only the best art can, with beauty." - Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian