Last weekend, my mom, who is the resident science expert in the house, and myself decided to watch this thriller.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
"Contagion" takes place over a period of a few months in the world. It begins with Gwyneth Paltrov's character Beth Emhoff returning home from a trip to Hong Kong... and bringing with her an unknown illness. Beth and her son both succumb to the disease quickly, leaving behind Beth's husband Mitch (played by Matt Damon) and their daughter. The CDC and WHO, meanwhile, are realizing what is going on and that they have a potential epidemic on their hands. The CDC works to calm the frightened population down, impose quarantine on certain cities, and try to find a cure for the disease while the WHO sends Dr. Orantes (played by Marion Cotillard) to track down the disease's origin. As things degenerate into chaos, a conspiracy theorist blogger Alan Krumwiede (played by Jude Law) claims that the CDC and government are conspiring and that the cure for the disease is a homeopathic remedy called forsythia.
Despite the movie having several characters and several plots going on at the same time, the movie made sense and was not confusing. The plot was set at a good pace and kept you engaged, wondering what was going to happen next. I thought, however, that the movie tied up a little too nicely and that everything seemed to be resolved too quickly given the tense situation with the epidemic and the time-frame of its spread. Some of the characters might not have been entirely memorable, but I thought the actors nonetheless did a decent job.
One big issue I had with the film was its propaganda. It was pro-government control in how the CDC and WHO were portrayed (except towards the end when Dr. Orantes learns that they tricked a village of Chinese people), and it was pro-vaccines, which I have personal issue with. Another issue is the portrayal of Jude Law's character, that people who are anti-vaccines and pro-homeopathic remedies are scumbags looking to make money off of desperate people. Even though I am certain there are people like Krumwiede out there, I took personal offense because I far prefer homeopathic remedies over what are generally considered to be safe cures for diseases and I'm generally skeptical of the medical industry to begin with.
Despite its faults, "Contagion" was a genuinely entertaining movie. Not amazing or something to watch over and over again, but definitely something to watch every once in a while for a good thriller about an epidemic.
I give it four out of five stars.
In Memoriam Pádraig Duggan
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