116 user 18 critic

Wit (2001)

PG-13 | | Drama | TV Movie 24 March 2001
0:32 | Trailer

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A renowned professor is forced to reassess her life when she is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.



(play), (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
3,451 ( 456)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Harvey Kelekian
Evelyn 'E.M.' Ashford
Susie Monahan
Dr. Jason Posner
Mr. Bearing (Vivian's Father)
Rebecca Laurie ...
Su Lin Looi ...
Nurse (as Su-Lin Looi)
Technician 1
Miquel Brown ...
Technician 2
Fellow 1 (as Harry Dillon)
Fellow 2
Alex Gregor ...
Fellow 3
Lachele Carl ...
Fellow 4
Student 1


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


It appears to be a matter of life and death.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 March 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

W;t  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


To prepare for the role, Emma Thompson shaved her head, following in the footsteps of Kathleen Chalfant and Judith Light, who performed the role of Vivian Bearing on stage. See more »


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 »


E.M. Ashford: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
See more »


Spoofed in Saved! (2004) See more »


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
See more »

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User Reviews

Personal, powerful, harrowing, unforgettable, Emma Thompson in one of the best performances we will see this year. **** (out of four)

WIT / (2001) **** (out of four)

By Blake French:

"Wit" is one of the most personal stories of terminal illness that I can remember. Most of the movie takes place behind hospital doors where the film's main character is tested and treated for advanced stages of ovarian cancer-that may be the reason that it was released straight to cable TV instead of getting a much deserved theatrical release. Do not let the depressing themes stop you from viewing "Wit," it is thought-provoking, riveting, unforgettable-one of the best movies of the year.

The film is directed by Mike Nichols (whose most memorable work is the original classic, "The Graduate"). He is at the top of his game here, vividly focused and, working for a script by himself and Emma Thompson, uses a narrative of the first person. The main character, a strict professor of poety in her upper forties named Vivian Bearing, often talks directly to the camera, incorporating a straightforward point of view as she shares her personal feelings directly. This gives the movie a personal dimension, and the soundtrack, consisting of memorable classical music, contributes to the penetrating power of this superb motion picture.

Since the production never had a theatrical release, it will not be eligible for Academy Awards next March. That is a shame, because the work by Emma Thompson is more invigorating, emotional, and involving as anything we are likely to see this year. She delivers a performance of awe-inducing empathy, doing something many actresses would have trouble dealing with. She plays a tough individual, both physically and emotionally, but, as the movie's clear irony proves, even the strongest people have a breaking point, and when she reaches hers, she loses confidence in her past and current strengths. Thompson is heartbreaking and vivid, creating one of the most convincing and noteworthy characters in a long time.

Christopher Lloyd plays Dr. Harvey Kelekian, the person in charge of Ms. Bearing's treatments. It is clear this man is more concerned about the results of the tests then the actual person being tested. Bearing becomes a mere guinea pig, and as she states in one of the movie's most powerful scenes, she is unbearably ill not because he has advanced stages of ovarian cancer, but because she is being treated for advanced stages of ovarian cancer. It is the actual treatments that are a threat to her health. Eileen Atkins plays a sympathetic nurse who sees Bearing as more than just a patient, but a person. Jonathan M. Woodward delivers a powerful performance as another hospital worker more interesting in numbers than people.

"Wit" is a powerful, harrowing movie not to be missed. It aired on HBO about a week ago and will continue running for a while, until finally reaching home video. Check you local TV listing for show times, or wait for the video release. This movie has a place on my list of the top ten movies of the year, and for you to miss such an influential picture would be a crime.

44 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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