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Germs run rampant in 'Contagion'

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A review of Warner Brothers' "Contagion."

By Becca Owsley

An unknown virus finds itself spreading throughout the globe with many lives entangling to find its source and cure.

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This basic plotline of “Contagion” might sound like films you’ve seen before but this one is different. It’s not like “Outbreak,” which was an action-adventure piece that disguised itself as medical thriller.

“Contagion” is a little more realistic. Slow close-up shots on everything the contaminated individuals touch brought great reality to the everyday person’s contact with germs on a daily basis.

Those who are obsessive about germs might feel vindicated and reach for their antibacterial gels as they are proven correct in their germ phobias. Being slightly obsessive, I found myself very aware of what I touched after the film and, yes, immediately doused my hands with antibacterial gel in my car after leaving the theater.

No, this film will not cause viewers to become crazily obsessed with germs, but it does make you think.

Steven Soderbergh of “Erin Brockovich” and “Ocean’s 11” fame directed this tightly knit film. In the midst of a mass epidemic, he is able to capture the emotion of those dealing with heartbreak and panic as well as showing those who manipulate the system and are cold toward others.

Where he fails is to tie off loose ends as the story concludes. The film suddenly ends as if he’s run out of stories to tell and then reveals how the contagion began. I needed more from the ending and closure to the lives of those we follow.

Another disappointment was Gwyneth Paltrow (“Country Strong”). In a film soaked in realism her portrayal as the first known contact with the disease was over-acted and out of place in the rest of the movie. Counter her performance with that of Kate Winslet (“Revolutionary Road”) and Winslet outshines her by miles.

Matt Damon (“The Adjustment Bureau”) and Jude Law (“Sherlock Holmes”) continue to prove they are two of Hollywood's shining actors. Damon’s performance as a concerned father and Law’s as an obsessed blogger offers a good contrast in storytelling.

In a small but important role Academy Award nominee John Hawkes (“Winters Bone”) plays an understated but realistic janitor as a symbol of the “every man.” I wanted to know more of his story as he only appeared in brief glimpses until the end.

Laurence Fishburne (“C.S.I.”), Marion Cotillard (“Inception”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) and Elliot Gould (MASH) finish off the all-star cast.

My favorite line from the film came from Gould’s character as he was explaining to Law why he’s not really a journalist: “Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.” The line struck me as funny, but maybe it’s just me.

I wouldn’t classify this one as a must-see but it is a thinker. If I was able to get some closure with a few of the characters and found out if the antidote actually worked, then it would have been a much better film. As it stands there are some good performances that lead to a vague conclusion. That might have been the filmmakers’ intent but for me it seemed unfinished.

This is one to see if a good flick isn’t available.

Now, I’m off to get some more antibacterial hand gel.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.

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