All about horror and panic

Based on a taut screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, the opening shots of Contagion are impressive, and the action shifts from patient to patient and city to city, aided by clever cutting and editing

Itís an airborne virus and it spreads fast and kills within days. Itís all over the world and the international medical community joins hands in looking for a cure. Thatís the story of Contagion, the latest film by Steven Soderberg, which premiered at the Venice film festival last month. Soderberg also won the Golden Palm in 1989 and this effort is in keeping with his high standards.

Based on a taut screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, its opening shots are impressive. Coldly horrific, the action shifts from patient to patient and city to city aided by clever cutting and editing. Hong Kong, Dubai, Atlanta, Illinois, Minneapolis, London, Tokyo and more.

The camerawork by Soderberg is impressive and ably backed by some staccato music by Cliff Martinez
The camerawork by Soderberg is impressive and ably backed by some staccato music by Cliff Martinez

Itís panic stations for all. Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an American housewife returning from a visit East, who is one of the earlier carriers, and waiting for her arrival at the airport is her husband Mitch(Matt Damon), and for him tragedy and shock is around the corner.Dr Ellis Clever (Laurence Fishburne) is the deputy director in control of the United States but he is not above board.

Then thereís an alcoholic Dr Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), whose heart is in the right place but the body is suspect. Dr Leonora Orantes. (Marion Cottilard), a WHO representative who monitors the progress of the virus and freelance journalist Alan Krumweirde (Jude Law), who gets little help from the authorities and is even told "blogging is perfidy with penetration".

With his usual penchant to get the viewer like a puppet on a string, he hovers around in circles, punctuated by doses of action (read deaths from time to time). Naturally some of the characters make brief appearances. Others stay on longer. Hidden somewhere is veteran Elliott Gould of M.A.S.H. like other yesteryear stars just marking his attendance.

The camerawork by Soderberg himself is impressive and ably backed by some staccato music by Cliff Martinez.

There are no special performances and though Jude Law and Kate Winslet do give traces of their talent, Laurence Fishburne is glaringly wooden. Also Gwyneth Paltrow is needlessly given such a high billing. But there is a punch line and Contagion (rarely hear it used in noun form) is well-worth watching.



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