Every since it was announced that Warner Bros. Pictures would be distributing Steven Soderbergh’s action-thriller Contagion – which features the mega cast of Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Gwyneth Paltrow – details have been extremely slim. All that is known is that the Scott Z. Burns penned screenplay will be about the outbreak of a deadly virus. This morning a script overview was posted online that details pretty much everything that will happen in the movie. Check it out inside.
From The Playlist:
“The story opens on Thanksgiving weekend, almost the worst possible time a virus could break out, considering the amount of travel going on and the fact that, as one character puts it, “It’s the biggest shopping weekend of the year,” while simultaneously the virus, and the fear it causes, spreads through the world. The scope is enormous — over the course of the film we visit China, Dubai, Japan, Switzerland, The United Kingdom, Iran, Brazil, Russia, and Malaysia.
We first meet Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, Beth Emhoff, as she flies back from a business trip, along with a casino worker in Hong Kong, Li Fai, and a Ukranian supermodel in London, Irina Modelskova. Almost immediately all three are struck down by a mysterious ailment — Li Fai meets a particularly messy end in downtown Hong Kong after hallucinating in the streets. Beth’s husband, Thomas (Matt Damon), is forced to care for his wife, and soon his stepson, as her condition worsens.
As the infection begins to spread, we meet a collection of other characters around the world. Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), the head of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and his colleague, Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), are both battling to find a cure for the disease, the latter being sent to examine Emhoff at home in Minnesota, while European doctor Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard), who works for the World Health Organization, has a similar aim: heading to Hong Kong to investigate what appears to be the genesis spot of the breakout. Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), meanwhile, is a hungry, truthseeking blogger with an unfortunate interest in conspiracy theories, who is responsible for spreading information about the disease, both true and false, around the world.
Fascinatingly and plausibly frightening, political and corporate interests continually get in the way of the doctors’ attempts to stop the disease, from the lawyer representing a mysterious magnate who offers Emhoff millions of dollars for a sample of his blood to paranoid fears of terrorism from Homeland Security. But regular bureaucracy, big and small, causes natural obstacles as well from world leaders foolishly worrying about virus patents and the sharing of key information while thousands die. And then there’s the FedEx guy who innocently closes up shop early, failing to rush out the urgent CDC package that we later discover could have potentially saved hundreds of lives.
While expansive and global, Contagion doesn’t forget the personal either, and the script touches upon very humanistic situations all tied to the complex, interweaving story including infidelity, grief, and the terror of losing one’s family that anyone on the planet should be able to easily relate to.
The script’s as much about the way that information and rumor can travel from person to person [as the disease], and even the most well-meaning characters make bad decisions, even if it’s only to protect their loved ones… It’s certainly a thriller in tone, and an extremely tense one at that… The film is a race against time, the stakes are incredibly high throughout the film, and Burns’ script never lets up — you’re never allowed the opportunity to stop and catch your breath.”
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