On "Contagion": The World Is Ending Because Gwyneth Paltrow Cheated on Her Husband

So I finally got around to watching Contagion last night, which I’ve been mildly curious about since there’s a hardcore virus epidemic at the core of the story, and in my new novel there’s a flu epidemic angle as well. And wouldn’t you know, the first thing you see is Gwyneth Paltrow’s (kind of sickly looking) face in the first scene, with the label Day 2, which makes you wonder, What happened to Day 1? (Your curiosity will be solved at the end of the film.) At times Contagion seemed like The Descendants meets The Road, as after Gwyneth Paltrow dies it’s revealed she was cheating on her husband, like George Clooney’s wife in The Descendants. And there are other scenes where food riots occur as the pandemic breaks down social services and food delivery, which seemed like a prequel to The Road.
The question is: Good movie or not? The first half is exciting, the second half fizzles out. I’ve read a great deal about viruses and pandemics. Odd as it may seem, the more I read, the less fear I had about them. Yes, I agree that serious virus outbreaks are inevitable, perhaps, but pandemics are very rare. I don’t believe the oft-stated notion of “It’s not a matter of if but when.” That’s often opined about everything from asteroid impacts to super-volcanoes, but “if” the “when” may be millions of years from now, it doesn’t seem to matter much. There are a number of scientists/epidemiologists who suggest that viruses are so complex that it’s hard to make any predictions about them, and that our ability to deal effectively with them has increased enormously from episodes/outbreaks in the past. The Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 is often mentioned as an example, and there’s an excellent book about that event: John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (2005).

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