Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Contagion

Open on: a too-convincingly suffering Gwyneth Paltrow.  No makeup, sweat on her brow, hair frazzled, face hollow, coughing and pallid in an airport bar.  This is a film about an epidemic.  We know that she isn’t just sick.  We know this isn’t a common cold or the result of too much time spent flying over the Pacific.  We know that she’s a carrier, that she’s dying, that her death is inevitable.  We think of the human beings herded like cattle into closed cabins alongside her.  Using the same tin can restroom.  The flight attendants picking up the garbage her hands have touched.  The germs tracked everywhere.  Carry-on baggage lifted, tickets exchanged, bacteria like a cloudburst spraying with each poorly covered cough.  These people will all die.  They will get off of the airplane and proliferate.  They will use public toilets, buy food, grab a drink, they will hire limos and climb into cabs, they will go home to houses filled with family members, apartments filled with people, with loved ones, with children.  They will go to work, their children will go to school and travel on buses, on trains, in carpools.  They’ll think it’s “no big deal.”  They’ll load up on vitamin C, cough suppressants, suck on drops.  They will touch their faces.  They will cough in their hands.  They will blow their noses.  They will not wash after each of these incidents, in between all of them.  Later, they will seize.  They will freeze up, their muscles will spasm, they will foam at the mouth and collapse without warning, biting down on tongues before someone even reaches to call 911...

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