Beth (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is travelling for business in Asia. After her final stop-over in Hong Kong, she returns to the US, meets an old friend in Chicago, then heads home to her husband Mitch (by Matt Damon) and their children. Beth is feeling the effects of jetlag coupled with a sniffle and a cough, but she finds this difficult to overcome and soon she becomes very unwell. Mitch rushes her to hospital, where her illness takes a turn for the worse, she has a seizure then unexpectedly dies. Her young son takes ill very soon after her and due to the speed at which the illness takes hold, he also quickly becomes comatose and dies. The officers at the Centre for Disease Control are increasingly concerned. Deputy Director Ellis Cheever (by Laurence Fishburne) assigns his best officer Dr. Erin Mears (by Kate Winslet) to the situation so that the matter is contained, the illness identified and public health is not compromised. She works with research scientist Dr Ally Hoxtall (by Jennifer Ehle) to get it handled. Unfortunately, the virus moves faster than they do – and in a double whammy a controversial blogger from Seattle and opponent of the CDC, Alan Krumwiede (by Jude Law), is highly suspicious and cynical about the actions of the CDC and rallies the community against them – at the same time publishing his own theories about the virus and how to beat it. By this time, Mitch is beside himself with anxiety and worries about the health of his teenage daughter Jory (by Anna Jacoby-Heron). He watches as his family and life seems to dissolve around him and resolves to do anything he can to protect his daughter. As you would expect, word of the virus gets out and the public are understandably concerned about their own safety – leading to everyone taking their own action, some unbridled panic and a threat of full blow anarchy across the community.
This movie is really good. Its almost a documentary and the viewing is realistic – people in fear, disease control working hard to understand and fight the virus, governments and organisations with their own political agendas. It’s all in this and the key points are explored well. We join the story on Day 2 of the developing outbreak and by the conclusion we have understood what happened on Day 1 to set the threat to public health on such a rapid roller coaster. The performances are good – Kate Winslet is stunning here and Laurence Fishburne is a pleasure to watch. Matt Damon is as good as ever and although she dies very early in the story Gwyneth Paltrow is featured throughout the story in flashbacks about her actions, to try to piece the journey of the virus back together. It’s particularly good where it depicts the situtation building the the community and the responses of the public and the health and safety authorities. Yes, it’s good – well done Steven Soderbergh once again.
Made in 2011. Directed by Steven Soderbergh