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>> Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The first thing to be said about Contagion is that I highly recommend avoiding it at all costs if you're any kind of germaphobe. I don't consider myself a germaphobe at all - although (like most people, I hope) I wash my hands after using the washroom and before I eat, I pay no attention to how often I touch my face (Contagion states its a ridiculous 6,000 or so times a day) and I rarely pay attention to the fact I occasionally chew on my hoodie's draw strings. Coming out of Contagion I felt filthy. As the film progressed I became more aware of the people around me coughing, or sneezing. I nearly freaked out when a lady beside me sneezed and some of her spittle ended up on my hand. At that moment I recalled walking out of Super Size Me in 2004 delighted as the theatre staff handed out some healthy snacks in support of a better lifestyle. I was praying some staff would be standing outside of Contagion with free bottles of Purel. In the paranoia aspect, Contagion brought it's A-game. Other aspects of the film ranked a little lower.

For all those out there hoping to see a film with as much action as something like 1995's Outbreak, you'll be disappointed. The general population will probably get bored by Contagion's slower pace. For those of us that like dramas and can feel comfortable and patient enough to ride the slow beats, Contagion should serve you just fine. The biggest problem with a film like this (which is just under two hours long) is that the patience never really pays off. I don't remember there being a moment where I actually felt satisfied. I knew Contagion could have been the movie I wanted it to be, but it just never excited me as much as I felt it should have.

I've heard through various other sources that this film is the most realistic take on a deadly virus outbreak that's graced the movie screen yet - perhaps that was the problem. Everything more or less happened the way it supposed to and while the human population isn't turned into zombies or completely annihilated, it's hardly a happy ending. Contagion feels less like a whole movie and more like part of a larger story - or several half stories put together.

That stated, the acting is killer. More specifically due to outstanding performances by Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne and Jude Law. None of them get it wrong and all of them add realism to the story. Despite all the half-negatives I'm saying about Contagion, it still works. There may be problems with some pacing and character development, but it's still an interesting story. I don't for see anybody saying this is the best film of the year, nor is it the worst. It's right in the middle and ultimately I have to give it an open door. For all the more risky films like Contagion that don't quite hit the nail on the head, there are some that do. Besides, I'd rather have a world filled with mediocre movies than the one currently filled with 80% crap.

*Stills courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


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