Contagion is the latest film from the ever diverse Steven Soderbergh, a director who can go from mainstream fair like the entertaining Ocean's series to smaller stuff like The Girlfriend Experience, and Bubble. With Contagion he seems to have mixed those two sensibilities, delivering a compelling, thought-provoking and often flat-out frightening film about a worldwide pandemic that seems all too real.
Starting off with one or two people, an unknown, highly contagious virus begins to infect people. Its impact grows, multiplying its effect to four, then six, then twelve, and eventually to a scale where it can no longer be ignored by the rest of the world. We follow a several people in various countries as the virus starts to spread even more while scientists try frantically to find a cure. Of course, once news of the virus travels then, as a say, the virus is the least of their worries - "nothing spreads like fear," as the tagline states.
It's a pretty basic set up but Soderbergh is such a talented, meticulous filmmaker that he rings every possible thing out of it. Spanning all sorts of different countries we get the chance to see how the virus is affecting not just one or two groups of people in one location but a variety of different places across the globe.
The reason the film works so well is the fact that we can all relate to it. In one way or another we've all been sick in our lives and it explores the possibility of "What if it had been a hell of a lot worse? What if I hadn't gotten better?" It also bluntly draws attention to the fact that we touch our face, taps, door handles, walls, mobile phones and, of course, each other (etc.) more than we might think, therefore making you more socially aware. I have to admit when walking out after seeing the film my awareness of those around me was heightened. It's rare a mainstream film can have that sort of power beyond simply watching it.