Posts Tagged ‘Marion Cotillard’

Nazi Neo-Noir

Allied

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, August Diehl, Lizzy Caplan, Marion Bailey, Matthew Goode, Simon McBurney, Josh Dylan

Flight director Robert Zemeckis’s hopes to rekindle the World War II genre with the Nazi thriller Allied pairing Oscar nominee Brad Pitt (Twelve Monkeys, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) are severely dashed.

Whilst Cotillard holds her own as femme fatale Marianne Beausejour speaking French in the stunning Moroccan opening sequence, it is Brad Pitt who looks forlorn as the flaky Canadian spy Max Vatan as he parachutes into the Sahara desert to enter an intriguing plot in Casablanca to assassinate the Nazi German ambassador to the Vichy occupied French Morocco.

The most engaging sequences in Allied is the first act, all set in exotic Morocco, but if the film is aiming to recapture the allure of Anthony Minghella’s Oscar winning masterpiece The English Patient, it falls short of the mark. Despite a competent script by Steven Knight although not his best work (Eastern Promises, Locke), Allied fails to deliver as a riveting war drama mainly due to the surprising lack of screen chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard.

Unlike in director David Ayer’s blood-soaked Fury, Brad Pitt wasn’t on his best acting form, pre-empting the drama of the Brangelina breakup which overshadowed the post-production publicity of Allied to such an extent that Marion Cotillard had to issue a press statement denying that she was the cause of the split between Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Publicity aside, the second half of Allied set in rain-drenched London during the Blitz is far more dreary than its spectacular opening sequence despite a strong group of British supporting actors including Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, Stoker), Marion Bailey (Mr Turner) and Simon McBurney (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Last King of Scotland).

Audiences should look out for two superb cameos by German actor August Diehl as the Nazi commander Hobar who incidentally also acted with Pitt in Tarantino’s revisionist war drama Inglourious Basterds and Lizzy Caplan (The Interview) as Max’s bohemian sister Bridget.

As Max Vatan and the mysterious Marianne Beausejour marry and set up home in Hampstead during the war, there are rumours circulating that Beausejour is a double agent, secretly working for the Nazi’s and that the entire Casablanca affair was a ruse to get Vatan to trust her. As Marianne states in the opening scenes, “I keep my emotions real. That’s why it works” which beguiles Max into falling in love with the sophisticated yet steely eyed Frenchwoman.

Whilst Allied is an engaging film in the first half, with stylish 1940’s costume to match, the second half fails to keep the audience interested and develops into a slightly soppy second half as the truth emerges.

Allied is an average war drama from a screenwriter that could have delivered far better and from two stars that required a more dynamic plot to compensate for their dismal lack of onscreen chemistry.

The Cure for Violence

Assassin’s Creed

Director: Justin Kurzel

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K. Williams, Denis Menochet, Khalid Abdalla, Callum Turner, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Gleeson.

Whilst Australian director Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed does not match up to the theatricality of his cinematic version of Macbeth featuring the same two leads, Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), the film version of the popular videogame Assassin’s Creed is by no means boring.

Assassin’s Creed like Warcraft does justice to the videogame and with glossy production values and a superb supporting cast including Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Rikkin and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (45 Years, Angelheart) as High Priest of the Knights Templar Ellen Kaye, the film has an atmospheric quality as the action shifts from contemporary Madrid to the Spanish Inquisition in Seville to a gloomy rain drenched London.

Fassbender all muscled and taut, plays convicted murderer Callum Lynch who is about to be sentenced to death via lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas only to wake up in a specialist facility run by Abstergo Industries on the outskirts of Madrid where the gorgeous and sleek, Sofia Rikkin played by Cotillard administers him in a bizarre program to cure him of his inborn tendency for violence. The program includes the hunky and shirtless captive (Fassbender) being plugged into the animus which allows Lynch to channel the vivid experiences of his violent ancestors.

As for the rather confusing time-jumping narrative, the whole story hinges on the Assassins protecting the key to freewill the Apple of Eden from the Knights Templar, whose contemporary equivalent appears to be the shady corporation behind Abstergo Industries headed up by the mysterious Rikkin, who Irons embodies with a silky velvet voice filled with menace reminiscent of his creepy portrayal of Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune.

As video game adaptations go, Warcraft was a better film, while Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed does justice to the genre although the film would only really appeal to fans of the game familiar with the basic premise of the elaborate sword wielding fight sequences which are mostly set in 15th century Seville.

Whilst it is a cinematic pleasure to see Irons, Rampling, Fassbender and Cotillard all share the same screen, one wishes it was for a masterful spy drama or a film about political intrigue rather than a video game adaptation. Fassbender and Cotillard acting abilities are naturally not put to such good use as they were in Kurzel’s visionary production of Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed will no doubt appeal to the gamers most of whom are male, judging by the patriarchal nature of the plot.

After all, Man’s free will was exercised by his taking of the apple in the Garden of Eden which the voluptuous Eve offered to him according to biblical legend. The key to freewill and the power to control it is all that the Knights Templar are after.

Assassin’s Creed is recommended for those gamers which enjoy a cinematic pastiche of the future and the ancient worlds moulded together in a Spanish setting as the Assassins battle the Knights Templar in a vicious bid to halt the cure for violence. Audiences should look out for cameo appearances by Brendan Gleeson as Callum’s father Joseph Lynch and Michael Kenneth Williams as Moussa.

 

Full of Scorpions is my Mind

Macbeth

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Director: Justin Kurzel

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, David Thewlis, Elizabeth Debicki, Paddy Considine, Jack Reynor, David Hayman

Australian director Justin Kurzel’s bold and bloody version of Macbeth envisions a bleak and brutal landscape where Scottish noblemen plot against each other all for the right to become King.

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Possibly Shakespeare’s most bloodthirsty play about power, vengeance and fealty, Macbeth has proved to be a perennial favourite among film makers and theatre performers alike. In this version, the two pivotal roles are played by Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) and the combination of their immense talent can be relished as they present a complex interpretation of the scheming Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Soon the ambitious couple plot to murder King Duncan of Scotland, played by David Thewlis as he visits their family castle. Macbeth stabs King Duncan multiple times while he is sleeping and promptly dispatches his guards too. Macbeth blames this ungodly crime on the heir apparent, the King’s son Malcolm, played by Jack Reynor, who flees to England to gather an army.

Macbeth claims the Scottish crown for himself but soon absolute power corrupts malignantly and the callous couple plot again to kill Banquo, a friend of Macbeth’s and a rival Scottish nobleman.

During the infamous banquet scene, which is the best in the film, Macbeth in front of his royal retinue is tormented by the images of Banquo’s ghost appearing among the guests to such an extent that he breaks down in front of the Scottish court.

The tyrannical Macbeth wanders into the misty highlands and seeks solace with the three prophetic witches who tell him that his right to be king is threatened by Macduff, “Beware Macduff, Beware the Thane of Fife!”

In the most brutal scene in the film, Macbeth’s soldiers capture Lady Macduff, played by an unrecognizable Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) and her three children, whose fate is sealed upon a fiery pyre.

In the final act, Macduff, played by Sean Harris (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) returns with ten thousand soldiers and storms Macbeth’s castle and in a fiery confrontation, the two enemies seek vengeance amidst a burning and unforgiving battle, when Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane.

Kurzel’s vision of Macbeth is bloody and dark, the production design comprising strong earthy colours like deep reds, browns and shining gold. The costumes are traditional and authentic.

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Cotillard is brilliant as the deceptively innocent Lady Macbeth, a magnetic and hauntingly beautiful queen who challenges her husband to commit heinous crimes, only to discover that Macbeth is willing to go to unmentionable lengths to retain his crown.

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This 21st century film version of Macbeth is heavily influenced by HBO’s Game of Thrones and is as violent, spectacular and riveting as the hit series, making Shakespeare’s Scottish play accessible to a whole new generation of viewers. This is an epic portrayal of twisted fealty, rivalry and horrific ambition, held together by two masterful actors playing iconic characters, imbuing their scenes together with a brilliant Machiavellian mischief, bordering on insanity and unchecked bloodlust.

Visually stunning, violent and superbly atmospheric, this vivid version of Macbeth is one not to be missed by cinema lovers and Shakespeare scholars alike.

 

 

 

 

61st BAFTA Awards

THE  61st BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 10th February 2008 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

atonement

Best Film: Atonement

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Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men

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Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – There will be Blood

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Best Actress: Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men

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Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

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Best British Film: This is England directed by Shane Meadows

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Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody – Juno

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Ronald Harwood – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Costume Design: La Vie en Rose

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Lives of Others (Germany) directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Source: 61st BAFTA Awards

 

65th Golden Globe Awards

65th Golden Globe Awards

The 65th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television of 2007, were scheduled to be presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on January 13, 2008. However, due to the Writers Guild of America strike, the traditional awards ceremony did not take place;[1] instead, the winners were announced at a news conference at 6:00 pm PST on that day (02:00 January 14 UTC).

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama: Atonement

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Best Actor Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis – There will be Blood

Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose

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Best Actress Drama: Julie Christie – Away from Her

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Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men

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Best Supporting Actress : Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There

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Best Director: Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Foreign Language Film – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France, USA)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/65th_Golden_Globe_Awards

Doves of the Bandit Roost

The Immigrant

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Director: James Gray

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner, Dagmara Dominicyk, Angela Sarafyan

With glorious sepia coloured cinematography by Darius Khondji, Ellis Island and early 1920’s immigrant New York comes to life in director James Gray’s period film The Immigrant, nominated for the 2013 Palm d’Or.

Oscar Winner for La Vie en Rose, French actress Marion Cotillard, speaking both English and Polish gives a complex and nuanced performance as Catholic Polish immigrant Ewa who after arriving on Ellis Island is soon rescued by the crazed opportunistic pimp Bruno, superbly played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Gladiator). The formidably and talented Joaquin Phoenix seems to be director James Gray’s cinematic partner and has starred in most of his films including The Yards, Two Lovers and We Own The Night.

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Desperate to return to Ellis Island to rescue her sister Magda (played by Armenian actress Angela Sarafyan) who has been quarantined for a contagious lung infection, Ewa soon enters quite bravely into a life of prostitution and cheap vaudeville theatre orchestrated by the erratic sometimes violent Bruno.

With a confident flourish Bruno introduces Ewa to the Doves of the Bandit Roost, a sleezy peep show and late night dive spot for immigrant lowlifes. This is New York in 1921 as prohibition has just been enforced and the raunchy social dynamics has been thrust underground.

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Conflicted by what she is forced to do to get money and her overwhelming desire to rescue her sister Magda, Ewa, gorgeous and enigmatic, brave and brazen gets caught between the unpredictable Bruno and his seemingly more stable cousin, a freelance illusionist Orlando, played with flourish and against type by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town). Ewa first captures a glimpse of the illustrious Orlando when she is sent back to Ellis Island and becomes an unwilling witness to one of his spell bounding illusions.

Soon affection develops between Orlando and Ewa, yet their mutual admiration is constantly thwarted by the controlling and threatening Bruno, who is desperate to make money out of his group of woman who he open flaunts to paying customers under tunnels in New York’s Central park.

New York born director James Gray presents a captivating if slightly dim view of the harsh realities of immigrants which arrived in the Big Apple in their thousands following the end of the WW1 leaving a poverty stricken and ruined Europe behind, always in search of the illusive, yet treacherous American Dream.

Naturally Cotillard is ravishing and believable as Ewa and the on screen chemistry between her and Phoenix is palpable almost to the point of tragedy much like it was between Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep in the superb film Sophie’s Choice, set almost three decades later.

The Immigrant is majestically shot, evocative, moody and brilliantly acted. It’s a classic melodrama reminiscent of early Italian Neo Realist films of the late 1940’s. The ambience and production design is beautifully recreated of early 20th century New York in a narrative which highlights that the hardships facing immigrants to any new country are perennial and just as relevant now as it was almost a century.

Lovers of atmospheric melodramas focusing on a nuanced yet doomed love triangle, will enjoy The Immigrant, but for many this film will have a very limited appeal.

80th Academy Awards

80th Academy Awards

24th February 2008

Oscar Winners at the 80th Academy Awards

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Best Picture: No Country for Old Men

Best Director: Joel & Ethan Coen –No Country for Old Men

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Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – There will be Blood

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Best Actress: Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men

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Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

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Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody – Juno

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men

counterfeiters

Best Foreign Language Film: The Counterfeiters directed by Stefan Ruzowitsky (Austria)

Best Documentary Feature: Taxi to the Dark Side directed by Alex Gibney and Eva Orner

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Best Original Score: Dario Marianelli – Atonement

Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit – There will be Blood

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Best Costume Design: Alexandra Byrne – Elizabeth: The Golden Age

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Best Film Editing: Christopher Rouse – The Bourne Ultimatum

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Best Visual Effects: The Golden Compass

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/80th_Academy_Awards

A Siege of Elegant Brutality

The Dark Knight Rises

Christian Bale as Batman

As skilled a director as himself assembles some of his cast from the 2010 hit Inception including the brilliant Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Oscar winner Marion Cotillard and the formidable Tom Hardy and gives them starring roles in The Dark Knight Rises along with Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway as the elusive and sleek Catwoman.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan clearly has an opera in mind, a three act narrative of epic proportions about characters regaining their honour, losing the shackles of structured employment and giving heroism a whole new twist. Whilst the late Heath Ledger stole the show in The Dark Knight as the clearly unhinged and psychopathic Joker, it is Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Elegant Brutality as the urban warrior Bane who rises from the depths of Gotham to terrorize the city once more as a fitting yet all together different advisory. While The Dark Knight made use of Chicago’s urban landscape, Nolan firmly roots The Dark Knight Rises in the island of Manhattan a grimy 21st century simulacrum of New York known as Gotham.

Tom Hardy as Bane

The Dark Knight Rises visually is outstanding as all the strands of the narrative splinter in act two and then elegantly reconnect in a way in which each character realizes their true potential in the explosive third act, where Nolan weaves themes of heroism, fear, despair and loyalty into a stunning conclusion whilst all the time shaping the appearance of not one but two new superheroes with a sly nuanced touch hinting at a possible fourth film in this hugely successful reboot of the Batman franchise. The screenplay by Nolan and his brother Jonathan is sharp, articulate and beautifully written if the viewer listens for the wise words between the clashing warlords and not too dazzled by the unbelievable action sequences.

Naturally the teaming of such a brilliant cast from Gary Oldman to a brief cameo by Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins) gives hefty weight to Nolan’s epic vision of a city under siege assisted by a superb script giving each of the main characters (and there is a lot of them) enough opportunities to develop around the myth of Batman and his superhero status. Bruce Wayne himself has to truly dispel all his demons, face his fears and rise out of the pit of popular heroism to become a true pillar of a man not measured by wealth, his tortured past or fame, but by how far his experiences have taken him.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

For action fans, this film will not disappoint and whilst the violence is at times seemingly excessive there are moments of clear cinematic pace as only director Christopher Nolan knows how to achieve. Whilst the second act might seem long-winded, it’s the third act which is truly thrilling and if viewers have not seen Batman Begins or The Dark Knight its best to brush up on the fable of Bruce Wayne and his epic transformation as Batman. As for Catwoman and Robin they are truly supportive of Batman’s statue as one of the most iconic superheroes around. Look out for wonderful performances by Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman and of course Christian Bale, yet it is really Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway who rise superbly in this possible final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s dark sophisticated Gothic superhero trilogy about Batman and the League of Shadows.

Recapturing the Magic

Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson has never been a brilliant actor. Mainly a comic actor and often cast in similar roles in a long series of American comedies from You, Me and Dupree to The Wedding Crashers. Under the right direction and script, Wilson is the type of actor that would shine. This is proven in Woody Allen’s simply delightful nostalgic film Midnight in Paris, which won him the 2012 Oscar for best original screenplay.

Wilson, like Jason Biggs and similar actors including Larry David plays a version of Woody Allen, a young idealistic  and neurotic playwright/author who is on holiday in Paris in the 21st century with his fiancée a wealthy American played by the effervescent Rachel McAdams. Wilson plays starry-eyed Gil who wants to recapture the Paris of the twenties, the enchanting city of lights as the epicentre of literary and artistic culture and bohemian ideas as it was decades ago. The Paris of Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The Paris immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in such novels as Tender is the Night.

Partly to avoid his annoying future in-laws, the hapless Gil strolls the streets of the French capital and by some magical twist at the stroke of midnight is transported back to the late 1920’s where his literary figures come to life. With real interaction with the artists and writers of the 1920’s and also of the earlier more elegant Belle Epoque, Gil is inspired to forgo all the promised commercialism of an America career and remain in gorgeous Paris,  a move that so many of his literary heroes did more than 80 years ago.

Midnight in Paris is a homage to Paris as an inspirational city not just for a whole generation of American literary greats, but Spanish artists such as Dali and Picasso but also filmmakers such as Luis Bruneul. Woody Allen deftly integrates a French and American ensemble cast including Oscar winner Marion Cotillard as Picasso’s muse, Adrien Brody as Dali, Allison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and even Carla Bruni.

Moving away from his Manhattan obsessions, Woody Allen is clearly enchanted with such European cities as Paris, Barcelona and London completes his European set of films with Midnight in Paris, an equally brilliant companion to Vicky Christina Barcelona and Matchpoint, with each film not just capturing the essence of these cities but also the ambiance and social characteristics of its famed residents, whilst throwing an American hero or heroine into an essentially foreign continental culture.

 

Fear as a Virus

Contagion

Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s gripping medical thriller Contagion follows a similar non-linear structure to his previous Oscar winning film Traffic about the US-Mexican drug trade and features a brilliant cast including Oscar Winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Oscar Nominees Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

With a fantastic musical score by Cliff Martinez, Contagion is a horrifying look out how a highly contagious immunodefiency-virus spreads like wild fire around the world from Macau to Atlanta, from Hong Kong to London through any form of human contact especially in the ease of frequent international travel.

The deadly effects of the virus and how the world population reacts to the onset of a disease so deadly that it threatens the survival of the human race is at the core of Contagion. While the ensemble cast are superb, it is Jennifer Ehle as Dr Ally Hextall in an unusually prolific role, previously seen in Wilde, Pride and Glory and Possession who shines as a scientist who races to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of the rapidly complex and mutating virus.

The always suave Laurence Fishburne plays Dr Ellis Cheever, Head of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and Jude Law features as a conspiracy theorist Alan Krumweide who while in San Francisco tracks the virus online and also how the pharmaceutical industry makes a fortune once a vaccine is developed.

Contagion is a scary and provocative film and raises serious questions about the survival of the fittest and the ethics of managing disease control in light of a deep preservation for continued existence of the human race. Viewers will definitely be washing their hands several times after seeing this absorbing thriller especially the pivotal and brilliant final scene. Whether it be drugs or a virus, both Traffic and Contagion deal with issues of control and the distribution of power in society and the effects of a debilitating affliction that knows no boundaries. Recommended viewing.

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