A Movie Review by Zinta Aistars
Perhaps of all types of courage required in the human condition, none surpasses the courage required to be stripped down to the spiritual bone of one's ego. In Wit, both the character, Vivian Bearing, and the actress, Emma Thompson, have this rare brand of courage. In an age when our female stars in the entertainment industry tend more and more towards cosmetic fluff, Thompson restores my faith in the woman of quality. She has... wit. She has intelligence, she has class, she has style. Her dedication to her art is supreme; in this film she abandons ego so completely in her portrayal of a woman dying, that I had to bow my head in admiration and respect. Cued by her character's devotion to a life of the mind, I followed the greater part of the movie in a state of intellectual fascination... until at last, as she wore down, so did I. Just as she would have me. As wit alone could not save her, nor could it save me, the viewer, from the sheer, naked terror and pain of the process of dying, of death. By finish, I felt ripped open, exposed, brutalized into feeling, into understanding how secluded we become from ourselves and from others when we isolate any part of our humanness. We are not to be intellect alone, however superior. We are not to be spirit alone, not body alone, but we are to be whole, even as we are in the process, no, most of all when we are in the process... of being broken down.
Wit is filmed sparingly and beautifully. There is no excess. The focus is clear and it is never anywhere but where it should be; every detail is in place for a purpose. John Donne's poetry is the perfect encasement to this story of life and death - and the metaphor of life as a comma, a pause, a mere breath away from death, is sharp and true. No less perfect - Margaret Wise Brown's "The Runaway Bunny." Run, if you will, but your humanity will finally find you.
The best movie I have ever viewed? Can it be? To date - it is. And Thompson's performance, even as I wince to downgrade it by calling it a "performance," even as I wince at such superlatives, is the most impressive I have ever seen. Bravo.