Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Viewing the Reviews: A lotta love for our girl, a little bit of buzz, and stealing a movie

“Somewhere in the world, the wrong bat met up with the wrong pig.”

Coming up from a triple shift in the data mines, covered with a coating of google dust, I’m offering you hours of reading pleasure, assuming you follow all the quinks (meaning quotable links).

The reviews are mixed, but mostly positive and none that really panned it outright. Lack of emotion over-all was a problem often cited, along with the multiple plotlines not adequately developed. Best of all (and even in reviews that found fault otherwise), there’s a great deal of love and praise for our girl and no bad when one considers the least conclusion is ‘credible’.

Blogger note: Take it as read that each time she’s tagged as British or English, I refrained from inserting ‘sic’ and that there is foot-stomping in North Carolina, New York, many other parts of the U.S., and certainly a tiny section of Illinois, as we whine, “Can’t we at least claim our half?”

Claudia Wallis at The Columbia University Record shares Ian Lipkin talking about his role as technical adviser on the film Contagion.
“We also had two actors—Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle—spend some time at my lab. They were playing officers at the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service, so we showed them how to use some of the lab equipment and we gave them little diplomas at the end of their tour of duty with us.” [I think we saw one of these on Twitter]

More from Dr. Ian Lipkin via Gerri Miller at Mother Nature Network:
”… training actors Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle to convincingly play epidemiologists. Ehle was a particularly good student. ‘We went over pronunciation of terms and what they mean — it wasn't just a question of learning the lines. She also became quite adept at using equipment,’ “

Michael Ordoña at SFGate wrote that Jennifer Ehle’s role in Contagion was expanded, and this:
“The remarkably beautiful Ehle reads as warm, vivacious and possessed of a powerful intellectual curiosity. So it's no surprise she soaked up all she could in sessions with epidemiologist Dr. Ian Lipkin, whom the New York Times once dubbed the man from whom viruses can't hide.”

From a Laurence Fishburne Interview at Flicks and Bits
Your character works very closely with Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle’s characters in ‘Contagion’, what can you say about them?
Laurence Fishburne: Jennifer is wonderful, I really felt great just having someone who’s so gifted to play scenes with, because a lot of the stuff we had to do, it was via telephone or via video conference, there were a lot of big scenes where people were exchanging information in different parts of the world. So a lot of my stuff with Kate was not face to face, it was over the phone, but most of my stuff with Jennifer was right there, face to face. They’re both just tremendous, both really gifted. It was an honour to work with them.

The Playlist blog Oliver Lyttelton wrote from Venice:
” For us, the acting honors go to not one of the A-listers, but to Jennifer Ehle, the veteran British actress who’s on something of a career resurgence after cropping up in “The King’s Speech” last year. Playing the doctor leading the search for a vaccine to the virus, she nails a certain kind of driven, semi-autistic genius with intensity and warmth, and the character’s scene with her father is perhaps the film’s most moving. If any of the above-the-line talent deserves to be in the awards conversation for the film, it’s Ehle.”

David Gritten reporting from Venice:
Jennifer Ehle is outstanding as a researcher working on producing a vaccine”

Stephanie Zacharek from Venice:
” Soderbergh also does well by some other terrific actors who haven’t had any major roles of late, including Jennifer Ehle as a take-charge researcher”

Todd McCarthy from Venice:
”The pressure cooker plot calls for intense performances all around but first among equals are Winslet and Ehle. The former's abilities are amply known but, whenever Ehle appears in films or onstage, she makes it clear she entirely belongs in the company of Streep (whom she resembles), Winslet, Blanchett, Kidman, Linney, et al. She just needs to get a few of the choice parts.” [Do you think someday, when JE gets all those break-out parts, that folks instead will be saying it’s Meryl Streep who resembles Jennifer Ehle?]

Movie City News blogger David Poland wrote:
”In the early stages, as we meet hot doctors, from a sponged down Kate Winslet to Marion Cotillard to Jennifer Ehle, the fear of stunting grew in my belly. But all of them settle into being the great actresses that they are and their roles in this worldwide drama and the fear subsided.

Jennifer Ehle has two supporting roles this next month that make a lot out of a little screen time.”

Review by thehorrorchick at Dread Central:
”There is one actor in Contagion that I would say stands above the rest of the ensemble, and that is the up-and-coming (or at least up-and-coming in the US) Ehle, a veteran British actress who’s suddenly popped on Hollywood's radar since her performance in last year's The King's Speech and deservingly so.

As Dr. Ally Haxtall, it's Ehle's character that passionately leads the CDC's search for a vaccine to the virus, and the actress masterfully finds a way to both balance her character's intensely overdriven tendencies and give her a subtle warmth that hints at what drives her during a scene with her ailing father that will no doubt leave you a little choked up (if you have any kind of a heart, that is). “

Richard Corliss in TIME:
”Contagion does have a heroine in Ally Haskell (Jennifer Ehle), a Bio-Safety Lab doctor with the expertise and guts to risk her life to find a cure. It's a treat to see Ehle, a winning, often underused actress, in a crucial movie role. Her warm, flinty performance, first among equals in a strong cast, is one of the prime lessons to take away from this intelligent Surgeon General's advisory of a film.”

Post at Dread Central By kwlow: Scroll down for Jennifer Ehle interview video (in Hextall cardigan).

Edward Douglas posted comments from an interview with Contagion Writer Scott Z. Burns.
Burns: And then there's Jennifer Ehle … I think she's amazing in the movie.
Interviewer: She's very good. Almost everyone after my screening was asking who that was, and that's not a bad thing when you're in a movie with Matt Damon and Kate Winslet.
>Burns: Because of the way we did this, Steven and I could look at it and go, "Wow, Jennifer Ehle's really great. It'd be good to write another scene for her."

BUZZ Alert! Peter Knegt mentions the O-word:
”Frequent Clooney collaborator Steven Soderbergh’s multi character virus drama “Contagion” went a bit better with critics, but some suggested it’s not exactly Oscar fare (though of the extensive cast, it seems Jennifer Ehle is its best bet at recognition).” [I’ll Squeeee if it will help].

Karina Longworth in the Broward Palm Beach New Times:
”Jennifer Ehle has a career-making part as the quietly brilliant researcher whom Soderbergh frames like an ingénue as she reels off jargon at an impossibly fast and mellifluous rate.” [I guess Baftas and Tonys don’t make a career. Maybe she means a career in science? I do like ‘mellifluous’ though … there’s that tenuous bees & honey connection.]

Izumi Hasegawa reports on an Interview with STEVEN SODERBERGH. [Note: there are other links that report these same words with different interviewer initials]
IH: I understand that Jennifer Ehle was cast because you saw her performance in Michael Clayton. What did you see in that which made you want to cast her?
SS: That was an amazing performance, and so...that sounds horrible. I had known who Jennifer was for a long time, and this didn't take a lot of thought, honestly, I have a somewhat long list of people that I've seen in the course of my career and thought, "Wow they would be great to work with." And I did know from Tony (Gilroy) that they had really good experience and I wasn't in any danger. So I'm just glad that worked out, and of course now she's reteamed with George (Clooney) in Ides of March. So it's all happening this year.
IH: Was there something that made her right for that role in particular?
SS: I knew that, by her saying yes, she was willing to take a run at some very complex language. This stuff is one of the most difficult scenes, in terms of the language in the movie being the explanation, and when she says, "Okay, we know what it is now. The green part is this. The red is that..." Scott had written it in general terms, and then Ian Lipkin was on the set, and we wrote it right there. It's not really fair to throw dialogue like that at someone at the last minute. I was hoping the fear of having to say it would translate as excitement and the high emotional stakes for the world, because it was a lot. It looked hard.

Some JE quotes were listed at Flicks and Bits:
Jennifer, what kind of research did you do for your role?
Jennifer Ehle: I had two really fascinating mornings with Dr. Ian Lipkin and his team up at Columbia Univercity in New York, at his lab doing experiments. Basically they gave me a crash course, and I did all sorts of extraordinary things – pigs brains with encephalitis, growing bacteria, growing viruses, and finding the DNA sequences from a sample. It was really an extraordinary couple of days, and then at the end I got a certificate that said I was now qualified as a microbiologist to practice absolutely nowhere (laughs). It was wonderful. Dr. Lipkin e was very, very present during the shoot, and very hands on. So the research was kind of ongoing while we were shooting.

And, in response to another question:
Jennifer Ehle: Well, I just have to say ’Contagion’ came out of the blue for me. I usually have to audition and sort of jump through hoops and I didn’t for this. It completely blew me away to be asked to do it, for somebody that I admire as much as Steven Soderbergh to have that kind of faith that I could do it. I also took it assuming that, the same way I took the part in ‘Michael Clayton,’ assuming that probably it would be cut, but that I would have a wonderful experience meanwhile doing it, and that didn’t happen this time.

Jeff Leins at News in Film:
”… the stand-out is Jennifer Ehle as the humble scientist searching for a vaccine.”

Mike D'Angelo in Las Vegas Weekly:
”… of the all-star cast, only the relatively lesser-known Jennifer Ehle, playing a scientist who tests a possible vaccine on herself, makes a strong impression.”

Yong Shu Hoon at asiaone
”But it's a challenge for these actors to leave a deep impression with their limited screen time.
In this regard, Winslet and Ehle fare better than the rest with the skilful portrayal of their resourceful and self-sacrificing characters.”

James Verniere, Boston Herald:
Scene-stealer Jennifer Ehle is radiantly smart, sexy and implacable CDC researcher Dr. Ally Hextall. Let’s face it, these people are too good-looking to all be in the same movie.”

This might be my favorite quote! Christy Lemire, Associated Press:
”Despite all the big names crammed together, Jennifer Ehle might just steal this thing as Fishburne's right-hand woman, Dr. Ally Hextall, who's racing to find a vaccine even as the number of dead skyrockets. Like the film itself, she's got an irresistible cool about her. But she's also so confident and radiates such no-nonsense intelligence, she commands the screen every time she shows up.”

Randy Myers, Contra Costa Times:
”But Jude Law and lesser-known Jennifer Ehle (Geoffrey Rush's wife in "The King's Speech") really stand out. Law brings a fiery zeal and temperament as a San Francisco blogger whose Web traffic surges with his alarming claims about government involvement in the crisis. His character is the most interesting of the lot, and Law has a heyday. Ehle, as a researcher, comes in a close second as a character who takes great risks to stop the disease's spread. We can see steely resolve in her eyes.”

Okay, this one is here because it gave me a laugh. John Hill wrote:
”Incidentally, Jennifer Ehle's supposed to be in it to, but we didn't recognise her.” [Were you looking for a curly black wig, John?]

Andrew Wright in the Salt Lake City Weekly:
Best-in-show honors, however, go to Ehle, a fairly unknown actress (best known for playing Elizabeth Bennet opposite Colin Firth in the seminal 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries) who underplays beautifully as a research scientist whose eggheadedness masks a deep humanism. If the film has a hero, she’s it.” [Fairly unknown??? Is P&P the only thing anyone has watched or heard about??? Sheeesh.]

Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
”Also impressive is the underrated Jennifer Ehle ("The King's Speech") as a CDC doctor who's intent on thwarting the disease.”

Sarah Sluis, Film Journal International:
”As a dedicated and fearless researcher, Jennifer Ehle makes a lasting impression.”

Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist at indieWire:
”Jennifer Ehle plays a crucial role in the film as one of the scientists who races to find a cure for the virus that is wiping out Earth’s population at an exponential rate; arguably, next to Damon, she’s one of the emotional epicenters of the film.”

[I'm sure she said 'mantel' even if he didn't write it] As told to TakePart: By Max Follmer:

Perri Nemiroff wrote:
”There are also two names that don’t appear on the poster that are particularly commendable, Ehle and newcomer Anna Jacob-Heron. Ehle’s Dr. Hextall, is incredibly bright and rather than flaunt her knowhow via meaningless medical jargon, Burns and Ehle bring her down to earth through entirely relatable dialogue and a subdued and honest performance. Ehle has a very natural onscreen presence, letting the audience connect to her character almost instantaneously.”

[LOL, this is a great quote ~ my second fav, I think] Stephen Whitty/The Star-Ledger:
”Supporting actress Jennifer Ehle, however, who plays one of the whip-smart CDC researchers, is terrific. With her patterned stockings and small secret smile she’s a sexy bit of life in the lab; you see the glint in her eye as she talks about rare viral mutations, and you see how weirdly thrilling she finds all this, in spite of herself.”

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times wrote:
”… Dr. Ally Hextall. Two-time Tony-winning actress Jennifer Ehle comes close to stealing the picture with this quietly yet quirkily empathetic performance.”

By Damon Houx at ScreenCrave:
”With all the heavy hitters in the cast, it’s surprising that Jennifer Ehle walks away with the movie. As one of the key doctors trying to figure out a cure, Ehle manages to be smart, confident and surprisingly sexy (especially for someone wearing a Tyvek suit for much of the film). Though Ehle’s been acting for a while now, this is that role. She’s going to be in a lot more shortly.”

Cathy Jakicic, the Journal Sentinel :
”Most characters are realistically flawed, though Damon and Ehle emerge as heroes. In fact, even among her A-list co-stars, Ehle walks away with the movie.”

MANOHLA DARGIS wrote in the New York Times:
”Rounding out a medical SWAT team, which is almost as self-consciously sexy and quirky as the thieves in Mr. Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” movies, are a pair of C.D.C. doctors, Ally Hextall (a wonderful Jennifer Ehle) and David Eisenberg (Demetri Martin), who hoist test tubes and send rhesus monkeys to their deaths,”

Sasha Perl-Raver at PopcornBiz blog:
”Impressive assemblage of talent—most notably Winslet and Jennifer Ehle who plays a level-headed scientist methodically working on a cure.”

Jeannette Catsoulis at npr:
”Centers for Disease Control (represented by Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and a terrific Jennifer Ehle)”

Lou Lumenick, Nypost:
”Jennifer Ehle, outstanding in her first major screen role” [????? Sunshine, Possession, Alpha Male. Oh well, guess it’s only major if Matt Damon is in it.]

Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver sends some love from the Carolinas:
”Winston-Salem native Jennifer Ehle stands out as a tireless doctor who commits a selfless act most of us wouldn't dare to do.”

ROGER MOORE - The Orlando Sentinel didn’t have a lot of praise EXCEPT:
”It’s only when the luminous Ehle … [snip tried&true P&P reference] …takes center stage that “Contagion” crawls out of the petri dish and into something less clinical.”

Tom Long/ Detroit News:
”The film does have an actual hero, though you sort of have to wade through all the rest to get to her, a doctor at the CDC played by the perpetually underappreciated Jennifer Ehle ("The King's Speech"). Thanks for being there, Jen.” [Our underappreciated Hero!]

In Pegasus News by John P. Meyer:
”Ally Hextall (the fabulously underrated Jennifer Ehle)” [Oh, well, we know what you meant, John.]

Bob Fischbach, WORLD-HERALD doesn’t find much emotion in the film until:
”Perhaps strangely enough, it's Jennifer Ehle … as a virologist trying to develop a vaccine who brings the biggest dose of humanity to the story.”

Steve Prokopy at Gapers Block web pub:
”Other nice turns come from Lawrence Fishburne, Elliott Gould, Bryan Cranston, Sanaa Lathan, Dimitri Martin and especially Jennifer Ehle, as a researcher who may be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to save humanity. She's the perfect combination of heroic and reckless.”

Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic (Everett, Washington):
”Another CDC scientist is played by Jennifer Ehle, an actress who should've had a huge career after starring in a BBC "Pride and Prejudice" a decade and a half ago. She all but steals this movie from her higher-paid co-stars.”

LYNN VENHAUS - For the News-Democrat:
”Jennifer Ehle ("The King's Speech") stands out as a doctor risking her life for a vaccine.”

Blogger Ethan Alter:
”Even with the limited material they have to play, the A-list ensemble cast is strong across the board, with Winslet and Ehle delivering the film's standout performances.”

By James Sanford at Mlive:
”The performances are thoroughly believable, with Winslet (as a feisty but somewhat insecure go-getter) and Ehle (as a risk-taking researcher) contributing particularly noteworthy characterizations.”

Mrigank Dhaniwala from koimoi (Inside Bollywood):
”Jennifer Ehle stands out for her realistic performance.”

PopMatters blog by Bill Gibron:
”Winslet is wonderful … Equally charming is Ehle’s Hextall. While a bit too self-righteous in the reading, her sense of duty and sacrifice are empowering.”

Matt Brunson at Connect Savannah :
”… the picture mostly follows the scientists and health officials tasked with finding a cure -- considering that Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle are cast in these roles, one gets the impression that being a physical beauty is a requisite to landing these sorts of jobs.”

Amy Curtis, Austin TX Examiner:
”Cotillard and Ehle impressed in their respective roles as strong, intelligent women. Both gave the otherwise bloodless characters of a World Health Organization agent and a scientist fighting for a cure some heart. Though both parts were drawn as frighteningly austere professional women, both Cotillard and Ehle were able to soften their characters without lessening their intelligence or purpose.”

Christopher Orr at The Atlantic:
” Their many less-famous castmates are comparably excellent, in particular Jennifer Ehle, daughter of Rosemary Harris, best known for … [snip you-know-what] … With the exception of Ehle's noble research scientist, the human characters are largely bystanders to the wax and wane of the biological apocalypse.”

Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press:
”Angelic scientist Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) doggedly seeks a workable vaccine.” [I had to include this one ~ none of the others called her angelic]

”Jennifer Ehle is also worth mentioning. The Brit actress, best known for the beloved Colin Firth-starring BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” is perhaps the film’s true hero. Her crusading scientist is an unshowy, note-perfect creation, and an example of Soderbergh’s skills of observation.” [Okay, I didn’t snip this time ~ just letting you see what I’m dealing with here, folks. ☺]

Bob Tremblay, GateHouse News Service:
”It can be difficult to sympathize with or care about characters whose screen time is limited. This can put a heavy burden on a cast that needs to make a connection without a plethora of minutes at its disposable. Interestingly, the actress who succeeds best in this regard is not one of the headliners, but Ehle as Dr. Hextall. Her bedside scene with her infected father (Dan Flannery) adds a potent dose of poignancy.”

Megan Carr, NorristownPatch By Megan Carr:
”Back at the CDC lab, an amusing duo played by Jennifer Ehle (The King’s Speech) and Demetri Martin (The Daily Show, Taking Woodstock) provide the scientific muscle.” [doesn’t say why they are amusing, will have to look for that when I see it] ” … Ehle’s presence calls to mind Sigourney Weaver with her square jaw, thin lips and sparkle in her eyes.” [???? Wait … Wait … That can’t be right … What about Meryl Streep? ]

Blogger Matt Barone notes that Jennifer and her lab partner rock Hazmat suits, and adds:
”Despite their minimally fleshed-out assignments, several of the actors do manage to rise and shine. Ehle, a British-American talent perhaps most known for last year’s Oscar titan The King’s Speech, breaks out here with strong presence and subtle fragility.”

In his review Stephen Silver notes:
” Jennifer Ehle also gives a standout turn as one of the doctors looking for a cure.”

Tom Charity, for CNN:
”The English actress Jennifer Ehle is a revelation as another research scientist striving to find a cure.” [And yay to the comments section there for pointing out things about ‘English’ and ‘revelation’]

The Philippine Star link had to be included if only for the quotes from Ehle and Damon banter, and especially for this image (which made me chuckle ~ a lot):
“Tony-winner Jennifer Ehle who was still reeling from excitement at being in the same movie with such a formidable ensemble of Hollywood superstars.”

Forrest Wickman at The Slate:
”… a standout Jennifer Ehle” [Oh dear, did anyone else think that writer’s name was ‘Wickham’ at first glance? I think I’ve seen too many P&P references while compiling this.]

Everything has been so positive, but I guess I should include what blogger Josie Campbell had to say (though it’s not really terrible & we can blame the script):
”As for the dialogue, while the screenwriters may be familiar with CDC protocol they seem to have only a passing interest in the English language. Back stories are regurgitated in stiff expositional chunks, such as when Ehle gives an unnaturally formal monologue about being inspired to her sick father.”

Curt Holman, Screen Grab blog:
”Lesser-known Jennifer Ehle practically steals the film as CDC researcher, frequently engulfed in one of those ballooning biosafety suits, who conveys the technical challenges of reproducing the virus in the lab, developing a cure and producing it in quantities quickly enough to save millions of people.”

nnalee Newitz at io9
”… the mesmerizing Jennifer Ehle as an intense CDC scientist” [I hope that’s in a fascinating way, and not a putting-to-sleep way]

Sheila OMalley at capitalnewyork writes about Contagion making its point clumsily and at painful length., but adds:
”Any time we come back to Kate Winslet’s doctor setting up the quarantine tents in a giant armory, and lecturing the local health officials on what they need to be looking for, or Jennifer Ehle’s serious lit-up face behind her mask as she works over steaming vats of chilling viral cells, or Fishburne’s impassioned desire to not only get the epidemic under control but also help and save his own people, Contagion knows what it is about.”

”Despite a few chunks of doubtlessly accurate but impenetrable scientific speech that will come off like babble to much of the audience (kudos especially to Ehle for heroically wading through it), much of writer Burns’ dialogue is witty and even deliberately funny in places.”

Michael Gingold at Fangoria:
” The cast playing the assorted health officials and workers are believable both as professionals and individuals (Jennifer Ehle is a standout as a doctor struggling to develop a cure)”

At Christian Science Monitor By Peter Rainer:
”The best thing about "Contagion" is that, in a few instances, the people involved, especially the researchers, come across like human beings and not mere statistics. This is particularly true of Kate Winslet's Dr. Erin Mears, … and Jennifer Ehle's Dr. Ally Hextall,

Winslet and Ehle are so intense that they cauterize the movie's hokum.”

NY Mag: David Edelstein:
”… researcher Jennifer Ehle (in the movie’s best role)”

Claudia Puig thought the character arcs fell flat, and only a few performances manage to inspire. So, it counts as high praise, I guess, that she says:
”Jennifer Ehle is credible as a scientist researching vaccines” [Is this like being ‘tolerable’? Sorry … P&P reference … I’ve slapped myself.]

Jennice Fuentes writes:
”… a team that includes the maverick doctor Ally Hextall (a luminous Jennifer Ehle) who is willing to take any risk to find a vaccine”

Mal Vincent found it dull over-all, but found one positive:
” Of the supporting cast, Jennifer Ehle stands out for trying to do something with little. We welcome her back to film. After successes on Broadway (two Tony awards) and as the TV heroine of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” she retreated to North Carolina to start a family. Ehle has another film coming, “The Ides of March.” [Seems like those 14 seconds in The Adjustment Bureau are being overlooked here!]

Rashid Irani, Hindustan Times said:
” As flustered health officials, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Ehle portray their parts with the requisite amount of angst and anguish.” [I think that’s praise, right?]

Christine Weitbrecht wrote:
” Matt Damon, Jennifer Ehle, and Laurence Fishburne are definitely the main catalysts of the story, and the three protagonists audiences will care about most.”

David Weiss thought his heartstrings were not grabbed due to the lack of a clear-cut hero, though he lists some candidates for that label, including:
”Jennifer Ehle and Kate Winslet as smart, brave, white-coated women who hate the monster with a virulence and dedication equal to its own life-destroying power.”

” Fortunately, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard and Jennfier Ehle are up to the task of making lively action from medical research and administration.”

thedude-abides at MovieWeb questioned so many roles that could just as easily have gone to lesser-known actors looking to make a name for themselves, but added:
“Such was the case for actress Jennifer Ehle, who was the only person cast correctly in the entire film. And boy did it show.”

Mike Wilmington of Movie City News thinks the right way:
The performance already anointed by many critics of the movie — and I think they’re right — is Dr. Hexel by Jennifer Ehle (… uh, snip …), and she’s certainly due.”

Ben at Filmonic also has his head on straight:
”… the standout actress for me (as much as I love Kate Winslet) has to be Jennifer Ehle, who is not a big name yet but certainly should be after this movie. She evokes a young Meryl Streep not only in appearance but in quality in her role as a doctor on a quest to discover the cure for the disease.” [Just how many times has Jennifer been “discovered”, I wonder. I kind of shudder at what “big name” might mean, but I guess it’s inevitable now, with this film and especially A Gifted Man coming along. Oh, and, goody, back to Streep … Weaver just didn’t have the lasting power.]

Del Stone writes that Law is ‘powerful’ and Fishburne and Winslet are ‘excellent’, but:
”Ehle turns in the best performance as Dr. Ally Hextall.”

Joshua Keating blogged:
”Indeed the depiction of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization in the film is strikingly positive. When the strong arm of the state is represented by the photogenic trio of Marillon Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle, and Kate Winslet selflessly putting their lives on the line to save others, who could say no?”

Alex Cranz at Fempop explains who Jennifer Ehle is:
” Damon is a major part of this film, and arguably its emotional core. But Laurence Fishburne’s conflicted CDC rep and Jennifer Ehle’s virologist are just as crucial.
Jennifer whose-it you ask?
You know the lady romancing Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. She’s been having a little bit of a comeback in the last few years in that she’s actually appearing in films again. Here she’s another CDC doctor out to cure the virus before we all go the way of Gwyneth.
Ehle isn’t as familiar to audiences as the rest of the cast and there’s an everywoman quality to her. If you HAVEN’T seen the 1995 Pride and Prejudice ad nauseam … and you aren’t really into plays on the West End then she’s just a side character that slowly becomes one of the primary characters. Her story is only really told in the latter half of the film but she gives her few scenes such weight and poignance that you find yourself remembering them much more fondly than the various abuses that Paltrow suffers.”
[Well, I couldn’t very well snip it out of that, could I? I can only think that some of these people must be horribly shocked when they go to imdb or wiki and find out that she hasn’t been totally hiding for 15 years.]

Larry Madoff wrote for The Atlantic:
”Other perspectives include the research scientist (Dr. Ally Hextail), sympathetically and beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Ehle, working tirelessly to develop the vaccine.”

Noel Penaflor said:
Cheever supervises while Dr. Hextall (Meryl Streep lookalike Jennifer Ehle) and Dr. Eisenberg (comedian Demetri Martin, oddly enough given no funny lines) try to create a vaccine.” [Link included primarily to demonstrate we are firmly back on the Streepness road.]

Nathan Duke observed out thief in action:
”Thrown into the mix … a scene stealing Jennifer Ehle.”

In this article, William Carleton writes about one of Ally Hextall’s key scenes and has no problem identifying the film’s hero.
”The movie's hero is an epidemiologist and laboratory biologist played by Jennifer Ehle”

Written at the Manila Bulletin :
”Also noticeably good was Ehle, whose fervor to resolve the enigma behind the mutating virus was unwavering”

Jeremy Kirk at Firstshowing says what we like to hear:
”However, of all the notable actors and actresses in Contagion,it's Jennifer Ehle as a CDC doctor who shines brightest, handling very bit of sincerity in her character without effort and matching it with her own.”

That’s an excellent way to end, I think. I’m going to see Contagion on Tuesday (that’s today) or maybe Wednesday since I’ve now been awake about 20 hours straight.

Don’t miss the hi-res stills at this Film Stage link.

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