Contagion title image
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105 min.
Release Date

Sitting in the movie theater and watching Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion on opening day, I remember my awareness of the people in the seats and rows around me heightening as the film continued. A few rows back, a woman sneezed into her hands; then, I noticed her reach for another mouthful of popcorn. An older man down the row hacked a fluid-rich cough, barely covering his mouth. Another person sniffled and wiped their nose on their sleeve. All at once, the whole theater seemed to be crawling with disease. It might have been seasonal allergies, but it didn’t matter. I wanted to get out, desperately. The feeling only worsened once the film ended, and I started to leave the theater. Following a crowd of unnerved moviegoers out of the auditorium, I realized that many of those spectators who had been coughing and sneezing had now touched the handrails down the stairs and pushed the theater’s doors open, effectively spreading whatever they had to anyone behind them. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine touching anything in the cinema, much less using the restroom. I wanted nothing except to go home, take a scalding hot shower, and slowly spell out “q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e” like young Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004), until my germ-ridden dread had passed. That’s how one begins to feel after only a few minutes into Soderbergh’s masterful film, whose prescience no one in that theater in 2011 could have possibly imagined.

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