Cotillard (center) scours the world for clues.
Claudette Barius
Cotillard (center) scours the world for clues.

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Contagion, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Bryan Cranston, Elliott Gould, John Hawkes, Demetri Martin, and Jennifer Ehle. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Written by Scott Z. Burns. Rated PG-13.

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As prolific a worker as any in contemporary Hollywood, Soderbergh claims to be on the verge of packing in his own career, which gives his movie a pretty interesting subtextual twist: Work, in Contagion, is fraught with mortal peril. The first victims are business travelers, while Damon's stay-at-home dad is spared and even turned into one of the film's least ambiguous heroes. If Contagion truly is the first leg of Soderbergh's retirement victory lap, this harrowing film is a potent reminder of what we stand to lose.

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