This one I recommend.

Paltrow’s character dies early in the film, but remains important throughout.

Terrifying; greatly realistic

A good movie doesn’t always require a hero to save man kind or a villain to pose a threat to him. This is a film that doesn’t have heroes or villains, but real people in what could very well be a real crisis. Maybe not today or tomorrow but soon.

The latest from director Steven Soderbergh, Contagion is a genuinely terrifying and remarkably realistic film depicting the chaos that would take place in our world should an unstoppable, deadly and highly contagious virus threaten our species. The realism is what makes it terrifying.

It all starts with a woman named Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow). After a trip to Hong Kong, she returns home to her house in Minnesota feeling ill and a seizure ends her up in a hospital where she passes away. Similar events start taking place all over the world, alarming both scientists and the media. As they attempt to understand where the virus came from – could it be birds? – more people get sick and die and things hardly get better when the oublic finds out about what’s happening.

As I said, the film has no hero or even a protagonist. Instead it follows several different characters who each get their own plotline with some relation to the spreading of the virus.

Matt Damon plays Emhoff’s husband Mitch, who has only his teenage daughter left after losing both his wife and his son to the disease. Laurence Fishburne plays Dr. Ellis Cheever who wishes to find a vaccine for the virus and also suspects that it could be some sort of bioweapon. Kate Winslet, lovely as always, plays Dr. Erin Mears, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer who investigates eseveral deaths caused by the virus. Marion Cotillard and Chin Han play two epidemiologists who try to discover the origins of the virus. Jude Law plays a nosy journalist who wants to reveal more about the virus than he should. Elliott Gould plays a scientist who seems to discover a vaccine, which Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) promtly starts working further on. There’s also a bit of Bryan Cranston in there.

Hextall working on the cure.

Many scenes explain the plot without the use of dialogue. Instead these scenes rely on a catchy soundtrack and a montage to tell the story. More films need scenes like these.

The film is as realistic as it is horrifying, since it tells an entirely plausable story about something horrible that could easily occur at any time. Believable acting from a great cast helps create many unsettling scenes, particularly scenes were people get ill and inch closer to their deaths. Thanks to great character writing, one also feels truly bad for those who are in the worst of danger. It probably goes without saying that most people who see Contagion will remember to start washing their hands more frequently.

Again, I must mention how much approve of Soderbergh’s choice to make a film where the characters are really people. Not heroes, villains or comic reliefs. The actors play people who react to the disaster as real people would. I was a bit amused by Jude Law’s character, a conspiracy nut. Usually, this is the kind of character who gets it all wrong in the end, but in this film, he is correct when he makes people aware of what the vaccine might actually be.

Contagion is well-directed, smartly written, wonderfully acted and genuinely frightening movie that reminds us to take care of ourselves, as we are all vulnerable to horror such as this. I encourage many people to see it, if it isn’t too much trouble to sit through a movie without action or clichéd Hollywood characters, but a film that will actually make you think and at times even cringe. Now, if you’ll escuse me, I must find somewhere to get clean. I just touched a keyboard and I dunno where it’s been.

When seeing a trailer for this and hearing it was about the bird flu in a way, my father and I joked that this was a serious version of Birdemic. Oh God, Birdemic… we’ll get to that one later!

4.5/5 whatever.