During my trip home from school, I heard someone say that people were blowing the coronavirus out of proportion because of how ridiculous super-disease movies were. But there are some striking similarities.
“Contagion” tells the story of the fictional MEV-1 virus and its rampage across the world as health workers and officials try to stop it. The film has an anthological feel to it as it covers multiple different plots from different perspectives, telling the story of the initial infected to health officials’ response and the civilian side of trying to survive.
It portrays the scope and severity of the virus effectively, changing perspective and showing what it’s like closer to the ground and higher up. It also distinguishes these stories well with very different settings, casts and even color palettes to show a variety of settings.
However, a couple of plotlines seem to ultimately go nowhere or are so rarely touched on that I forgot about them. While none of them take anything away from the story and actually add the touch of realism that the film is going for, they still seem as though they could have been streamlined or made more relevant overall.
However, the film still gets across the point that it’s trying to make very effectively: reality is often much scarier than fiction.
Other films in this category tend to lean toward dumbing down the disease or taking a completely unrealistic scenario and adding a bunch of technobabble to make it sound smart. This film tries its hardest to make this situation seem as realistic as possible.
In all my research for this review, I only found a handful of exaggerations and mistakes. Small details like the focus on how much potentially infected people interact with others helps drive home the severity of the disease.
From the outset, the film gives a sense of slight paranoia. The score also helps with this, being a simple set of electric beats that set the pacing and mood well. Overall, this film is well-acted, well-written and well-shot. Barring a few story details or character decisions, I have very few negative comments on this film. It is very effective at storytelling. The impact of this film, though, cannot be understated.
When I was asked to write this review, I realized that this movie was selected because of how topical it had become recently. With lockdowns going into effect all across the country, the number of people watching this movie on Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms has spiked drastically.
This movie presents one of the most realistic responses that health organizations would have to a pandemic like the one presented in this movie. However, COVID-19 is not the fictional MEV-1. A point that the movie drives home is to not panic in a situation like this. There are many, at times startling, similarities between the film and reality, but the differences in situations are still many.
Even then, the message of the movie remains the same, don’t panic.
In the film, we see just how much society degrades over the course of a couple months from the panic the disease causes. Drug stores become the center of riots and relief trucks are raided for survival, and we are shown that this only makes the disease spread further.
“Contagion” might be a nightmare version of our current situation, but it still gives valuable insight into what is being done to fight the virus and how we should handle the situation. Stay safe, everyone.