Reviewed by: Ken James
Better than Average
Teen to Adult
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
March 21, 2001
SUFFERING—Why does God allow the innocent to suffer? Answer
Cinema can be used for many purposes, but some seem to view film as strictly escapist entertainment only. For those types of people it is unfortunate. If we let it, cinema can open up a whole new world that we have no previous knowledge about, and for me this is what “Wit” so remarkably does.
Based on Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer-Prize winning script, “Wit” brings basically a one-woman play to life in the character of Dr. Vivian Bearing (Emma Thompson), a professor of 17th Century poetry who has a lifelong affinity for words. She is single, 47 years old, and diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. But rather then let it beat her down, Vivian chooses to follow the advice of her research-loving doctor and go for the “full treatment” that will attempt to cure her in this 8-month-long hospital stay.
“Wit” is masterfully told mostly in the first person as Professor Bearing talks directly to us, the viewer, revealing her innermost thoughts in her present-day treatments, plus her past experiences that help us get to know her well. The only problem is, we start to learn that she has distanced herself from almost everyone that begins to draw near. Vivian is sadly lonely. And without Christ, whom she never even mentions as someone she believes in, I cannot comprehend how anyone can go through such pain and suffering. Even with Christ one can hardly understand the anguish.
We all know someone who has been affected by cancer, then the subsequent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Yet how much beyond words can one understand without being intimately involved? “Wit” takes us there, in all its ugliness. We learn to groan with Vivian whenever the research doctor/intern with no—zero—bedside manner comes around, yet rejoice when her faithful nurse draws near and shows loving compassion to her. Sharing a popsicle together, the nurse and Vivian discuss quality of life and the ultimate decision of whether or not she should be classified as “DNR” (Do Not Resuscitate) when he heart finally stops beating. Is it more important to add to the unquenchable knowledge of research, or die in dignity? Should she keep going or give up the fight?
In “Wit”, you will cry if you are committed enough to sit through this heavy drama. You will feel her pain, and it is because of this identity with Vivian that “Wit” succeeds. There are about three instances of foul language/cursing, and one scene of non-sexual upper female nudity. Recommended for teens and adults.