I have two guilty pleasures that I will confess to: medical thriller novels and disaster movies. So, Contagion is a bit of a perfect storm for me. Especially when you add in the quality of the people involved with making it… Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Solaris); Oscar-winning actresses Gwynyth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Marion Cotillard; and Oscar-nominated actors Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Elliot Gould.
I won’t dwell on the actors, with a cast like this it goes without saying that everyone gives a fantastic performance. I will say though, that no one actor steals the show. It is a true ensemble piece. The real credit should go to Soderbergh’s directing and a tight, economical script from Scott Z. Burns. It’s all too easy to let a disaster movie get bogged down in melodrama but Soderbergh and Burns let the reality of the situation shine through in every scene.
Perhaps, most impressive is what’s not in this movie. No inept scientists causing further mayhem, no opportunistic military trying to use the virus for their own ends, and (most impressive) no last-minute cure that keeps the virus in check. The action of the film covers several months and is the most realistic dramatization of a global pandemic that has yet been filmed. Contagion may be the scariest movie of the year.