Contagion. 2011. USA. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Screenplay by Scott Z. Burns. With Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow. 35mm. 106 min.
Perhaps the scariest film of the 21st century, Steven Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns’s oracular vision of a global pandemic was the most talked-about movie of the past 18 months—and with good reason. Though the death rates are far more tragic in this fictionalized version of the nation’s response to a devastating SARS-like virus, everyone in the world can now relate to its sense of terror: the most valuable mechanism of comfort in our lives—the people we share it with—are the most dangerous thing we can encounter. Featuring a classic Hollywood disaster-movie ensemble cast and a breakneck pace, Contagion has a rare quality only achieved by the best artists: prescience.