Saturday, September 3, 2011

Venice Review Round-Up: "Contagion"

Hollywood loves a good disaster movie. And, thankfully for studios, they come in many variations. Earthquakes, tidal waves, burning skyscrapers, monsters, or simply the end of the world itself. And, when it comes to movies about diseases, Hollywood isn't usually known for being anymore realistic. Whether it's The Crazies or British imports like 28 Days Later (which is, to be fair, excellent), if it starts with a disease, it means one thing: zombies. So, leave it up to Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean's 11) to try something different with the sub-genre. For a while now, there's been buzz that Soderbergh's Contagion was unnervingly graphic and realistic in its treatment of a disease, and early word at Venice, in addition to praising the film, is only reinforcing those early notions.

The Telegraph - David Gritten (N/A): "...a cut above most Hollywood thrillers..." (most of the review was spent on vague plot details, so a big 'booooo' to Mr. Gritten.

The Hollywood Reporter - Todd McCarthy (N/A): "Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns create unease and simmering tension without going over the top into souped-up suspense or gross-out moments..."

The Guardian - Jason Solomons (3/5 stars): "I was shuffling nervously in my seat, edging away from the sniffling man next to me." "...well assembled and propulsive, though like the virus, it loses momentum."

IndieWire - Oliver Lyttelton (A-): "Soderbergh creates a kind of tapestry of illness and panic, and the structure works like a charm..."

Variety - Peter DeBruge (N/A): "Still, without fully rounded characters, it's hard to care who lives or dies..."

Time Out London - Dave Calhoun (3/5 stars): "It's a sober and engrossing dramatic thriller..."

Venice Verdict: Though it may not be entirely personable, Contagion is a major success for Steven Soderberg, and an unusually realistic and unsettling ensemble thriller.

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