121 user 19 critic

Wit (2001)

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


Mike Nichols


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





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 ... Fellow 4
David Menkin ... Student 1


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


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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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 »


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


Vivian Bearing: One thing that can be said for an eight-month course of cancer treatment: it is highly educational. I am learning to suffer.
See more »


Featured in Front Row Late: Episode #7.1 (2020) See more »


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 »

User Reviews

Astonishing movie and superb teaching film
12 August 2011 | by frjacksjmdSee all my reviews

A friend gave me a copy of the play's script. I was stunned. A day or two later I rented and then quickly purchased the DVD. I am a physician with boards in internal medicine and psychiatry who has spent 35 years caring for the elderly and dying in hospital and hospice settings. This movie crystallizes those years of experience.

Six years ago I invited the ten medical students in my history taking group to view the film together in a setting away from the school. I have since repeated this twice yearly with each of the small groups under my charge. I made one big mistake the first year. After the movie ended I turned on the lights while the credits were running, oblivious to the sniffing and outright weeping on the part of the freshman medical students. Since then I've permitted the credits to run completely before turning on the lights. There is generally a delay of up to five minutes before any of them are able to say anything.

The student response has been uniform. Gratitude for having seen the film, awe of the realities of the profession they have chosen to enter and appreciation for the chance to come to a deeper understanding of their own selves and motivations for entering medical school.

Eileen Atkins is absolutely superb as Evelyn Ashford, PhD. Her scenes are brief but they bring the deeply religious underpinnings of the film to the fore. Her first scene, in which she recites the final stanza of Donne's Holy Sonnett X, (a scene which gave the movie its title) contrasts with the tender love in Vivian's hospital room. Her reciting of the poetry is astonishing. It was not until the sixth or so viewing (I've lost count) that I realized her parting words, "May the angels lead you to Paradise. . . " were the English translation of In Paradisum from the Roman Catholic funeral liturgy. That was one time when my tears joined the students.

Anyone working in medicine; students, residents, nurses and nursing students, aides and so on, should watch this movie. I generally used the class the day following the viewing for a discussion of the movie, the bedside manner of the docs, nurses, techs and so on as well as what feelings the movie stirred in them. The conversations have been memorable.

This is a movie that is not to be missed. It is tragic that it was made for television by HBO rather than given general theatrical release. Many fewer people have seen it is a result.

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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


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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