8.1/10
7,891
116 user 19 critic

Wit (2001)

PG-13 | | Drama | TV Movie 24 March 2001
A renowned professor is forced to reassess her life when she is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.

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Writers:

(play), (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
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3,677 ( 77)

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dr. Harvey Kelekian
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Mr. Bearing (Vivian's Father)
Rebecca Laurie ...
Vivian aged 5
Su Lin Looi ...
Nurse (as Su-Lin Looi)
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Technician 1
Miquel Brown ...
Technician 2
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Fellow 1 (as Harry Dillon)
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Fellow 2
Alex Gregor ...
Fellow 3
Lachele Carl ...
Fellow 4
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Student 1
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Storyline

Based on the Margaret Edson play, Vivian Bearing is a literal, hardnosed English professor who has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. During the story, she reflects on her reactions to the cycle the cancer takes, the treatments, and significant events in her life. The people that watch over her are Jason Posner, who only finds faith in being a doctor; Susie Monahan, a nurse with a human side that is the only one in the hospital that cares for Vivian's condition; and Dr. Kelekian, the head doctor who just wants results no matter what they are. Written by Pat McCurry <laraspal00@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It appears to be a matter of life and death.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic material | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

24 March 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

W;t  »

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,  »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Margaret Edson wrote the play "Wit" (for which she won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), she was an Atlanta-area kindergarten teacher. In 2010, she changed to teaching sixth grade instead at Inman Middle School in Atlanta. "Wit" was the first (and, as of 2012, the only) play she ever wrote. See more »

Goofs

During her exam with the young internist, her arms alternate repeatedly from being completely under the sheet, to being folded together on top of the sheet. See more »

Quotes

E.M. Ashford: While reading The Runaway Bunny: A little allegory of the soul. No matter where it hides. God will find it.
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Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Best Films of 2001 (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

2nd Movement
from Gorecki's Symphony No. 3
(Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)
Written by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki (as Henryk Gorecki)
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
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User Reviews

 
Powerful And Touching Account Of Living And Dying With Cancer
24 March 2001 | by See all my reviews

This is a wonderful, must-see film.

Emma Thompson puts on a superb performance as Vivian Bearing (a Professor of English Literature specializing in the poetry of John Donne,) who leads us through the last months of her life in narrative style.

Diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, Bearing agrees to experimental treatments involving powerful doses of chemotherapy. As we see her gradually losing her fight, Thompson convincingly portrays her emotional and physical torment and pain. Audra McDonald is well cast as the compassionate nurse (Susan) assigned as Bearing's primary care giver, who tries to ensure that, in the face of the doctors' temptation to continue to use Bearing as a guinea pig for their research, she will be treated with dignity and respect in her last days. John Woodward is quite believable as a young cancer researcher (Dr. Jason Posner) who really seems to see dealing with patients as an inconvenience that takes time away from what's really important to him, and his rather emotionless and awkward interplay with Bearing suits the character perfectly; a testimony to Woodward's talent.

This movie offers a powerful commentary on the cold and rather antiseptic environment of hospitals, in which patients are seen more as learning opportunities than people. The poetry of John Donne, interspersed throughout the movie as a source of strength for Bearing, is well used.

There's very little to criticize about this movie. Christopher Lloyd (cast in a rare serious role as Dr. Kelekian, the doctor in charge of Bearing's case) comes across as a bit flat, but the role is a relatively small one, and this doesn't detract much from the story. I also found the flashback scenes to be a bit distracting, but these have to be seen in context: this movie is based on an original stageplay written by Margaret Edson, and these scenes would look quite natural in that environment. I also thought the movie went on about five minutes too long. The last scene to me was unnecessary. I personally would have liked to have seen the movie end with the touching visit by Bearing's former Professor. We'd been put through the ringer enough, and didn't need the troubling last few minutes. These are just minor quibbles, though, about a truly great movie.

It's powerful, well acted, well put together. It could be disturbing to some people uncomfortable with illness and death, but it is an educational experience just to watch. I give it 9/10.


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