CONTAGION--Directed by Steven Soderbergh. With Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle/written by Scott Z. Burns/rated PG-13/1hr45min
Bifocal Review written by Barbara and Gordon Rich
(B) This movie was very informative, at times, somewhat more of a documentary about the intense research and detail that goes on when an epidemic threatens. For me, that made the film compelling and the credit probably goes mostly to the cast and the director for my level of interest. On the other hand, I could not help feeling that something was missing. I don’t know exactly what it was. Perhaps it was that there were no strong starring roles, mostly co-starring ones. Matt Damon and Kate Winslet were more significant than the other co-stars, although they were all good. Maybe it needed a little more emotional content for the viewer. Best scene: Matt Damon’s reaction after learning of his wife’s (Paltrow’s) death. It was so real and it came at a perfect time in the story. I give it three binoculars.
(G) Before I get rolling, I have to say that the most impressive part of this film is the graphic example that is given on how small the world has become. There is an old phrase on synchronicity that goes something like, "A butterfly flapping its wings in the Brazilian Jungle can cause a hurricane in Taiwan." This movie shows how ultimately interconnected all life is on our planet. That was the memorable message for me. Now, I am going to have to do something, that I don’t ordinarily like doing and that is, I have to criticize some of my fellow critics. When Contagion hit the screens this opening weekend, one barb that was thrown was that the story “had no heart.” That’s absurd! In a world that is in the throws of a pandemic virus, how could there not be heart? Within the storyline, many of the main characters make personal sacrifices to alleviate the suffering of others (on small and grand scales). For me, there is nothing that shows heart more than self-sacrifice. The script moved pretty well for me (better than it did for Barbara, apparently) and I always like it when the writer takes the time to tie up any loose ends the viewer might have. During the course of the film (this and others) Barbara was constantly pointing out that certain details hadn’t been explained. Be heartened. The final frame of the film will answer all your plotline questions. Fishburne, whose name doesn’t even appear as a star, was in his element. Damon is perfect and it’s a three way tie for best female performance with Paltrow, Winslet and Cottilard all doing what we've come to expect from them...deliver great performances. Jennifer Ehle, like Fishburne deserves an honorable mention. In the new world of digital reviews, I give this one 3.4 binoculars. Check my math, but I think that makes our Bifocal Average a 3.2.