Steven Soderbergh has a knack for assembling a whack of big name actors for his ensemble casts, and Contagion is yet another of those. I don’t even remember hearing about this film when it came out in 2011 despite its star-studded cast . But when I saw it pop up as a viewing option just a week or so after LOCKDOWN I decided to give it a go in spite of it having La Paltrow as one of its main stars.
The good news is Gwyneth dies in the first ten minutes 🙂 though (spoiler alert) she does return in a couple of flashbacks. What’s interesting about the film is how the reality of a pandemic varies from what we have experienced. In some ways it’s very much like what is going on now with two main differences: the nurses’ union refused to work under unsafe conditions and went on strike, and the Secret Service moved the US President underground. If that had actually happened the first would have collapsed everything and the latter would have been an excellent idea, especially if they’d taken his phone away.
As for other “front line heroes” forget about it. Shops were abandoned and looted, there were no supermarket workers, no food available, no public workers at all. Garbage filled the streets. Mass graves just like we saw in NYC. End of days.
But one of the many unrealistic things was that a vaccine was found lickety split and then magically mass produced so that – YAY – everyone was saved. I lost count of the days but it all seemed to have happened in less than half a year.
Recently I read that there has never been a vaccine for any coronavirus. This was also a coronavirus in the film, attacking the respiratory system and one thing that rang true was how the virus spreading was shown. There were plenty of meaningful lingering shots of door handles, bus handrails and just SURFACES in general. All the stuff about washing your hands was there, they even mentioned “social distancing”. It’s almost like we already knew about this in 2011, that it was likely to happen, almost inevitable. And here we are. Anyhow, it’s interesting to watch this now from our new first-hand experience perspective.