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Wit (2001)

PG-13 | | Drama | TV Movie 24 March 2001
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0:31 | Trailer
A renowned professor is forced to reassess her life when she is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writers:

Margaret Edson (play), Emma Thompson (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
4,878 ( 508)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 12 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Emma Thompson ... Vivian Bearing
Christopher Lloyd ... Dr. Harvey Kelekian
Eileen Atkins ... Evelyn 'E.M.' Ashford
Audra McDonald ... Susie Monahan
Jonathan M. Woodward ... Dr. Jason Posner
Harold Pinter ... Mr. Bearing (Vivian's Father)
Rebecca Laurie Rebecca Laurie ... Vivian aged 5
Su Lin Looi Su Lin Looi ... Nurse (as Su-Lin Looi)
Raffaello Degruttola ... Technician 1
Miquel Brown Miquel Brown ... Technician 2
Hari Dhillon ... Fellow 1 (as Harry Dillon)
Benedict Wong ... Fellow 2
Alex Gregor Alex Gregor ... Fellow 3
Lachele Carl Lachele Carl ... Fellow 4
David Menkin ... Student 1
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Storyline

Based on the Margaret Edson play, Vivian Bearing (Dame Emma Thompson) 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 Dr. Jason Posner (Jonathan M. Woodward), who only finds faith in being a doctor; Susie Monahan (Audrey McDonald), a nurse with a human side that is the only one in the hospital that cares for Vivian's condition; and Dr. Harvey Kelekian (Christopher Lloyd), 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 March 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

W;t See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To prepare for her role, Dame 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 »

Goofs

The size of Vivian's and Susie's popsicles. See more »

Quotes

Jason Posner: [conducting a medical history check] Are you having sexual relations?
Vivian Bearing: Not at the moment, no.
See more »


Soundtracks

The Unanswered Question
Written by Charles Ives
Performed by Orchestra of St. Lukes
Conducted by John Adams
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records
Under License From Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Powerful And Touching Account Of Living And Dying With Cancer
24 March 2001 | by sddavis63See 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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