‘Contagion’ reminds us to wash our hands
Todd Miller | Collegio Writer
I went into this movie expecting it to be lame, unrealistic and full of unneeded, voiceless montages. I was happily surprised that it was much better than expected. Plus, it had only two unneeded, voiceless montages.
The film is about a new virus breaking out in spots around the globe, and continuing to spread worldwide. The virus spreads and kills quickly while disease researchers around the world work to stop the epidemic.
One problem in the film is the six subplots, meaning there are a lot of characters and story lines to follow. A couple of times I saw a character who had previously been introduced, but I’d forgotten completely who they were. I wasn’t able to remember the names of most of the characters. Trying to fit so much into a two-hour film meant each subplot suffered. None was quite fully developed, and half were left without conclusive endings.
One plot follows a Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), who works at the Centers for Disease Control. He has to protect the reputation of the CDC during the epidemic, while trying not to use his knowledge of the disease to protect the people he knows and loves. His personal plot wasn’t all that involved or developed, so he is little more than a side character most of the time.
There are two subplots that are entirely similar, and would be continuous if not done by two characters. The first follows CDC agent Dr. Mears (Kate Winslet) as she tries to find out where the virus came from, and trying to treat and quarantine infected patients. A similar plot develops later when Dr. Hextall (Jennifer Ehle), tries to create a vaccine for the disease. However, her character seems to come out of nowher
Another subplot involves Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon). Emhoff is the husband of Patient Zero, Beth Emhoff, who died along with their son. After learning he has immunity to the disease, he spends the entirety of the film trying to keep his teenage daughter (Anna Jacoby-Heron) from becoming infected. Despite people dying around the world, all his daughter thinks of is her social life and spending time with her boyfriend. However, I can’t tell if that part of her character is terrible or realistic.
Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) is a conspiracy blogger who quickly jumps onto the story of the disease. He claims the disease can be easily cured, but the government is working with pharmaceutical companies to make money on the cure they produce, and urges people not to take it. Krumweide’s plot confused me at times. At first, it seemed he was honestly on to something and trying to help people, but other times it seemed he was just trying to get people’s attention, earning him more money somehow. This was one of the plots left unresolved, so I don’t really know what it was about. Krumwiede didn’t play a major part in the main plot (finding a cure), so the movie would’ve been the same if we didn’t see his portion.
The last plot is the story of Carrie Anne (Grace Rex), an official from the Geneva World Health Organization who goes to Hong Kong in search of the disease’s origin. That’s all I can say without spoiling the rest of her story. This subplot suffers the most and disappears for about an hour of the film. I nearly forgot she existed until she reappeared again. Like Krumwiede’s portion, the plot wouldn’t have suffered if she hadn’t been mentioned at all.
The film would have been stronger if it better focused on such stories, rather than unneeded montages of the science behind the virus. The film tried too hard to show both, rather than focusing on one portion.
Overall, this decent film spread itself too thin. If you can get past the paranoia of getting a disease after seeing the movie, I’d say it’s worth watching.