Steven Soderbergh directed a movie called Contagion in 2011 and it featured an all-star cast including Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne. Why am I bringing up a film nearly a decade old that a lot of people have probably forgotten about? Well, because on Tuesday, it moved into the top 10 most-sold movies on iTunes. Inexplicable, right? Well, not quite, as Contagion is actually pretty relevant in light of what’s going on in Asia right now.
You see, the pic is about a virus that spreads across the world, killing countless people and striking fear in all of us for its realistic depiction of a potential outbreak. Of course, the coronavirus is very real and has claimed the lives of more than 150 people in China. And it has folks curious about the subject, which is why Google searches for Soderbergh’s film rose 89% in the last week. Directors often hope their lesser-known efforts eventually find an audience, but I don’t think this is what Soderbergh had in mind.
Contagion has actually become underrated in his lengthy filmography, though, and there was even talk of a sequel once upon a time. Despite the cast and a modest box office haul, it’s a forgotten little thriller that does an excellent job of conveying the efficiency of something like a deadly virus. There’s very little sentimentality in the movie, too, as life is nothing but a fleeting moment. Winslet, who’s kind of a big star, is just doing her job and then one day, she feels a cold coming on. A few scenes later, her dead body is dumped on the side of a road next to a dozen more. Deadly viruses don’t discriminate.
I imagine viewers are tickling that morbid curiosity bone much like one would slow down to see a car crash. People are even drawing parallels to Resident Evil. But the coronavirus has now gone stateside with five confirmed cases, and those five people are currently in isolation in hospitals awaiting the development of a vaccine.
So, be careful out there. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough and avoid eating things that might come into contact with bats, like in Contagion.