Nothing spreads like fear.
When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a trip to Hong Kong, she’s caught a cold that quickly turns out to be something much worse – and the start of a global pandemic. A good example of hyperlink cinema, where we are introduced to multiple characters and storylines, a jumbled narrative and a worldwide perspective, linked together by a common theme. The filmmakers aim to show what would happen if the most serious pandemic since the Spanish flu strikes and do so in a scientific, matter-of-fact way. Similar to the director’s Traffic (2000); not always successful in its portrayal of the characters, but horrifying and well-conceived.
2011-U.S. 106 min. Color. Produced by Gregory Jacobs, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher. Directed and photographed by Steven Soderbergh. Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns. Cast: Matt Damon (Mitch Emhoff), Gwyneth Paltrow (Beth Emhoff), Laurence Fishburne (Ellis Cheever), Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law… Bryan Cranston, Elliott Gould.
Trivia: Jennifer Connelly was allegedly considered for a part.
Last word: “Scott [Z. Burns] and I were about to go into meet with Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher to close the deal to make a movie about Leni Riefenstahl. They had the Stephen Bach book, which is very good. Scott and I had a really, really interesting take on this, like a very radical interesting take on how to do this, and we were supposed to meet to talk about the pitch, like ‘Here’s what we are going to do.’ And suddenly I go, ‘I don’t want to do this. Nobody is going to go see this.’ I go, ‘We are going to spend twenty-eight million bucks and two years of our lives, and nobody is going to want to see this, not even our friends. I’m not going to do it. I’ve done that. I don’t want to do that again. I’m too old.’ I literally said [to Burns], ‘What else have you got?’ And he goes ‘I want to do an ultra-realistic pandemic film.’ I said, ‘Let’s go pitch that instead,’ and that’s what we did.” (Soderbergh, Ain’t It Cool)