I was surprised when I heard that Steven Soderbergh's latest Contagion was premeiring the Venice Film Festival. With its A-list cast, blockbuster feel, and heavy promotion, it just didn't seem like it belonged on a festival circuit. Apparently critics agree that it doesn't really belong at the festival, but so far, they also like it a lot. It seems that it is an extremely realistic and entertaining thriller with a great cast. This type of film is always a question mark in terms of Oscar potential, although it worked for Traffic back in 2000, so we'll see. For now I am excited that I get to see this next weekend, and think that it will at least do well at the box office.
Todd McCarthy from Variety:
"A shrewd, unsensationalistic, non-visual effects-dependent global disaster melodrama, Contagion creates a credible picture of how the world might react (and, up to a point, has reacted) in the face of a rapidily spreading mystery disease for which no cure exists. 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 (with one possible exception), which will automatically lessen interest among the lowest-common-denominator crowd. But the fine cast, likely solid critical reaction and undeniable topicality position this as a robust B.O. performer for the early fall season."
Oliver Lyttelton from Indiewire gave it an A-:
"Soderbergh creates a kind of tapestry of illness and panic, and the structure works like a charm, the film moving like a train, crossing continents and characters in a cut... the film is the kind of smart, grown-up entertainment that mostly doesn't get made anymore, a firmly entertaining, commercial project made with impeccable craft... it's also got a good deal of substance going for it, and it lingers on the mind, and on the skin, for some time afterwards."
Finally, Jason Solomons from The Guardian was the least impressed, but still seemed to appreciate it:
""I was shuffling nervously in my seat, edging away from the sniffling man next to me. Nobody shook hands or embraced after this screening... This is a straight-up movie, serious but, crucially, also slightly silly in the knowing Soderbergh style, always aware that it's a disaster movie, not a documentary." (3/5 Stars).