Two Thumbs Off

Contagion (2011) PG-13. 106 minutes. Finally watched Steven Soderbergh’s flick and was pleasantly surprised, minor errors bedamned. There was, of course, the teaser that packed theaters: Gwyneth Paltrow suffering an excruciatingly painful death in the first twenty minutes. Who wouldn’t pay to see that? But despite its CDC imprimatur the movie also captures many of the key individual and population dynamics should–or when?–a deadly pandemic emerges. Bioterrorist bullshit takes a hit: “Somebody doesn’t have to weaponize bird flu,” Morpheus says, “The birds are doing that.” Yes, doctor, and while we’re at it, I’ll take the red pill, thank you. The Minnesota Department of Health is depicted stocked with bureaucratic simpletons. Nothing personal, don’t ya know, embodying structural contradictions the movie captures well. And Jude Law makes a terrific villain: a perfidious blogger with my bad stubble and crooked yellow teeth. Frankly I’m amazed the agroeconomic denouement of the final minute, largely absent from CDC’s research program, and tellingly missed by just about every movie review in the biomedical journals, made the cut. Two cyanotic thumbs up. And–!–there they go.


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