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REVIEW: Contagion

REVIEW: Contagion

REVIEW: Contagion, Flicks.co.nz
Matt Damon on the run from germs in 'Contagion'

4 stars


Action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and the international team of doctors fighting the outbreak. Directed by Steven Soderberg (Traffic), with an all-star cast including Matt Damon and Kate Winslet. Now playing nationwide, click for movie times and trailer.

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Whoever came up with the idea to put a bunch of people together in a theatre and then screen a movie about fatal germs is a genius. Director Steven Soderbergh isn’t the first but he makes the most of the notion with Contagion, a film that you’d be best to suggest any germaphobes in your life should avoid like the plague.

Inglourious Basterds and 1985's Demons may have used their cinema setting to great effect but during Contagion you can sense the anxiety that comes from human proximity, let alone the angst accompanying an audience member’s cough. Soderbergh zeroes in on the gross yet banal communicability of disease, with lingering shots of surfaces being touched, coughs and splutters being made, and plenty of other daily hygiene crimes committed.

Whilst borrowing visually from post-apocalyptic zombie movies, Contagion wisely refrains from going too far in the direction of Stephen King’s The Stand, instead focusing on the storylines of a few largely unrelated characters. With star power to burn, the film is happy to kill off characters with little warning.

It does come off a little removed — the epidemic’s rapid spread, wide scope and high mortality rate mean that much takes place off-screen and Soderbergh doesn’t do the greatest job of bonding us to his characters — but at a time when we’re preoccupied with what we consider crises due to financial systems, Contagion is a reminder that we’re hardly in as much control of the globe as we think.

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