Pandemics have always been an intriguing subject for me. A critically-acclaimed star-studded (with Matt Damon, no less) pandemic film by Steven Soderbergh was therefore a sure bet. So in the midst of my pre-Europe madness, I ran out to see Contagion. To say I regretted it would be strong, but I was certainly disappointed.
Contagion has a unique matter-of-fact style, which was fascinating and frightening on the one hand but failed to engage me on the other. By telling its story of the mysterious virus in bits and pieces spread over four and a half months, it loses a sense of continuity, with far too much left unexplained. For example, much is made of the exponential rise in riots, looting and missing workers of all kinds (including police) but nothing is ever said about how or if these were brought back under control. Never mind the disease, how did the world survive the chaos for so long? Panic is a serious scary subject, but it doesn’t go anywhere in Contagion.
On the positive side, Contagion is well-paced (especially the first hour), well-acted (many good understated performances, led by Damon and Laurence Fishburne), well-photographed and has lots of believable dialogue. It just doesn’t hang together and feel like a story.
So Contagion gets only ***. My mug is up but it’s full of another one of those bland blends.