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Drama - Family

Contagion (2011)

Duration1h 46m
RatingsUK: 12A, USA: PG-13, 
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorSteven Soderbergh
Writers/ScriptScott Z. Burns
StarringGwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle, Elliot Gould, Bryan Cranston, 
RatingsIMDb: 6.7 by 284,025 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 85% by 272 critics.

Elevator Pitch: It is the present day. In Hong Kong people are randomly dying in the street and a traveller, Beth Emhoff arriving home from the Far East dies on the floor of the family bathroom. Her husband Mitch, rushes to hospital with her, and is found to be immune to whatever it is, but on arriving home finds his stepson dead.  The health authorities in America led by Dr Ellis Cheever begin to piece together what is happening, but when Cheever alerts his fiancee to the risks, and is overheard by the jannie in the facility rumours abound and the rule of law breaks down resulting in looting and panic buying. Despite the development of a vaccine a blogger causes even more disruption. How will it end?

Content: There is no sex or nudity, but people die somewhat unpleasantly, and in some cases extremely rapidly. Without being too gory we see an autopsy taking place on Mitch’s wife. We know what that saw does. The various protagonists appear on TV talk shows and once everybody knows about the bug there is panic buying and looting. We see Mitch, a sort of “everyman” and his daughter protecting their home and out there looking for food. Dr Orantes, who is looking for the source of the pandemic is kidnapped in Hong Kong and is held for months against the delivery to the kidnapper’s village of a case of vaccine.

A View: Because of the broad canvas covered by the film there are subplots I’d like to have known more about, but are just skimped over. It starts off really well, as the authorities try to work out what’s going on while people all over the world expire. The critics particularly liked Jennifer Ehle as a vaccine developer who succeeds. The film has developed a new following during the pandemic – as I write this we are still locked down in Spain and over two million people have died worldwide. An interesting watch now at litle cost.

Additional Info: A group of the stars have broadcast pleas to people to get vaccinated today.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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