|Matt Damon in Contagion|
|Jay Thomas Ryan and Parker Posey in Henry Fool|
|Gwenyth Paltrow in Contagion|
Contagion is maybe the first film of Soderbergh's that seems to carry over a personal style in a significant way, even though it's not a "personal film," per se, it shares the visual sensibility and thematic scope of some of his recent work, including 2008's Che and 2009's The Informant! It seems that Soderbergh has moved a bit more toward a consistent approach across these pictures, at least in contrast to the difference between Sex Lies and Videotape and Kafka. Contagion exhibits a remarkably seasoned directorial hand. Soderbergh is extending his grasp beyond a film like Traffic (2000), where he balanced the two contrasting worlds of the drug war so articulately, and allowing his film language to reflect more directly the age of globalization. The look of Contagion flattens us out and leaves us exposed. The drab hallways, office enclosures, and hospital rooms on display in the film, from Chicago to Hong Kong, all wash together in a way that makes the continental leaps Soderbergh is taking here seem cohesive. As I mentioned earlier, this very aspect of how to handle a global crisis in filmic terms can make the difference in the ultimate success of a film, as exhibited in the way less successful disaster pic leanings of a director like Wolfgang Petersen to the dreadful speculation on the consequences of the climate crisis in Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow.
|SPOILER ALERT!: The final image of The Day After Tomorrow|
|Steven Soderbergh shooting Contagion|
|Jennifer Ehle in Contagion|
|Jude Law in Contagion|
|Anna Jacoby-Heron and Matt Damon in Contagion|
As a final note, for my money it's Soderbergh's most experimental works that are his best. As a mainstream film maker he can get the job done, and he does that and then some with Contagion. But, if you haven't really looked at some of the lesser known Soderbergh, I urge you to construct a mini-film fest of some of these titles. Without the hilarious abandon of Schizopolis, the hit man genre re-structuring of The Limey, the sister experimental works of Bubble and the Girlfriend Experience, and his work with the late great Spalding Gray, Soderbergh could be seen as just another corporate shill of a filmmaker. The breadth of his work is amazing, and Contagion strikes a chord that hopefully signals a return to his more risk-taking tendencies.
|Steven Soderbergh in Schizopolis|