Release Date: October 20
Contagion has the sort of cast that makes you want to put your money down even before you know what it’s about – Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Elliot Gould, Bryan Cranston and Kate Winslet. It’s a good thing it has a riveting and relevant plot as well.
Beth Emhoff, a working mother played by Paltrow, returns from a business trip to Hong Kong feeling a little under the weather. Her ‘flu’ rapidly develops into a fatal condition that also claims the life of her son. Doctors are horrified as they watch Beth’s deadly symptoms spread rapidly through her network of friends and contacts. The Centre for Disease Control realizes they are facing a full-blown pandemic and as the world descends into panic, people are forced to consider the cost of compassion.
Traffic and Erin Brockovich director Steven Soderbergh expertly helms this fear-fuelled disaster flick about an airborne virus’s rapid spread around the globe. Contagion demonstrates how differently people react in the face of destructive threats beyond their control. “Don’t talk to anyone, don’t touch anyone. Stay away from other people,” a scientist advises her nearest and dearest. And of course this is just the sort of wisdom that will lead to life in the world Contagion imagines. But I couldn’t help wondering if it was the sort of wisdom a Christian could live by.
As far as the Christian is concerned, visiting the sick and caring for those who fall into society’s most helpless categories are virtues to be cultivated. Following our Lord’s commands in these areas led to the establishment of the first hospitals and pioneered many advances in medicine. However Contagion focuses the viewer on the individual – his or her personal and family survival – in a way that only a brush with death can achieve. Predictably the imperative to survive is driven by an unspoken assumption that this life is all there is, but the drama is well worth the watch.