Less Than Contagious

1.5 stars

I went to see “Contagion” expecting good things. The premise is common: a new virus sweeps across the world killing millions while scientists desperately try to find a cure. What makes “Contagion” different from other films is its focus on how various characters deal with the new virus. It is a good way of taking a basic concept and making it into a unique movie. Unfortunately, “Contagion” does not do it well.

“Contagion” starts off with Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) sick in an airport bar. The camera zooms on her hands touching her credit card to pay for her drinks. As the card passes from each hand, the audience  sees just how quickly the virus can spread. Beth returns home to her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) and dies two days later, along with Mitch’s stepson.

From this point on the movie just gets worse.

We then follow the stories of multiple characters, including Mitch. Dr. Ellis (Laurence Fishburne) is trying to contain and cure the virus and sends Dr. Erin Maers (Kate Winslet) into the field to do so. Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cottilard) is a world health organization
representative trying to find patient zero and Jude Law plays a blogger who believes the government is not telling the public everything in regards to the new epidemic.

Each character’s story plays out alongside the others during the epidemic but they never actually meet (brief exception with Fishburne and Law). This can be frustrating. The viewer is left jumping between the separate plots of each character and it often feels like a jumbled mess. Sometimes, there are long periods without seeing each characters. This is the major problem with “Contagion.” What’s supposed to make “Contagion” special is its focus on how humans react to an epidemic. But with such boring and unlikable characters, I found it hard to care.

“Contagion” does some things well.  The cinematography is good, there is a great cast and I’m sure that some people will like the realist
aspects of the movie. Ultimately, “Contagion” is a boring and sometimes bafflingly bad film that isn’t worth the price of the ticket.