ContagionFeature Film | Steven Soderbergh By Josh Ralske
A convincing and extremely tense medical thriller.
It's a tremendous credit to director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (who last collaborated on The Informant!) that their extremely talky thriller, Contagion, is as frightening and unnervingly tense as it is. It helps to have empathic, compelling actors such as Matt Damon and Kate Winslet onboard. Soderbergh's expert cast enunciates the densely packed dialogue with great conviction, and even when the chatter is blatantly expository, it's conveyed with wit and feeling. For a film so broad in scope and so inescapably episodic, it's relentlessly effective and much more viscerally engaging than Soderbergh's similarly ambitious Traffic. There are a few thinly sketched characters—Jude Law's antiauthoritarian blogger, for example, isn't quite convincing in his motivations. But the movie is fascinating in diagramming how vulnerable humanity is to a threat spread by touch, and Soderbergh convincingly captures the breakdown of society while telling an intricate and complex story of the race to control both the pathogen and the information surrounding it. Despite the relatively brief screen time allotted to each character, flashes of humanity and heroism still hit home. Grimly suspenseful and horrifying, Contagion seeps deep into your nervous system and lingers there. It's hard to think of a film more likely to alter the behavior of its viewers.