The COVID-19 pandemic started off as a slight scare; it was an acute respiratory disease primarily set in China. Then, the coronavirus spread to countries worldwide, and it has become worse than it was imagined. This coronavirus, a mutating illness that is a close cousin to the common flu, has impacted everyone everywhere. This film is the first one I thought of relating to what we are experiencing right now.
Contagion is a dark, tense, and realistic thriller about a deadly virus outbreak causing a pandemic. This film did not get enough attention when first released back in 2011. The film has since grown in popularity as soon as the COVID-19 epidemic became a worldwide issue. Some would go as far as to say that this movie predicts the current events that are taking over the world in 2020.
The film’s plot revolves around an ensemble cast. In one storyline, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns home from a business trip in Hong Kong and experiences flu-like symptoms. After brushing off the illness as “jet-lagged,” she dies ten minutes into the film. Her son soon dies from the same disease she had. Not wanting to risk any further, her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) takes the illness seriously and will do anything to protect their daughter. Unfortunately for them, the sickness spreads across the globe. In other storylines, doctors and researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are working on containing the virus known as Nipah (or MEV-1) while finding a vaccination. The World Health Organization (WHO) sends epidemiologist Dr. Orantes (Marion Cotillard) to find out the beginnings of the virus’ spread. During that time, a conspiracy theorist, Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), is spreading misinformation and rumors via social media that cause fear worldwide.
This movie gives each storyline a different perspective on how we view an epidemic, and each one shows the impact these characters create. This includes the sick willing to get healthy over misinformation, the paranoia of losing a loved one, the lengths of how far someone is willing to save lives, and the standard practices of social distancing. Each cast member conveyed their personal take on the deadly flu, whether it is not taking risks to go outside, finding a vaccine, or fear that you could get the flu. The fear that no one is safe gets you on your nerves until the film’s third act, where the film’s pacing starts going slower to give each storyline a full conclusion.
As I said before, Contagion was not widely viewed by many filmgoers. It was only until the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that got everyone paying attention to this movie, and many say that it eerily predicts the outcome of the next epidemic. The movie may be a thriller, but the cause-and-effect of something real and possibly could happen is more terrifying than you think. After all, the film’s tagline says, “No one is immune to fear.” But in the end, there is always hope. We will get through this, and someday, things we get back to normal. Contagion is a reminder of how serious we should take on a flu pandemic.