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  • Kathryn's Korner

    Wit with Emma Thompson

    This made-for-TV film was made in 1991. I never saw it until last year when it was recommended by a friend. Thompson plays a difficult English professor who is diagnosed with ovarian cancer early in the film.

    Before I lose you guys with the “C” word, let me just say how very much I enjoyed it. Both Herman and I really were just riveted to our seats throughout.

    This isn’t my typical “Kathryn movie” however, in hind sight, it is very off-beat and heart-warming, which basically encompasses my type of film.

    Thompson really holds her own throughout the picture and though it’s a very sad subject, director Mike Nichols makes it very palatable. It probably helps that it was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Margaret Edson. The screenplay was written by Thompson and Nichols.

    As I’m writing this, I’m struck by the fact that my favorite films are from the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    Christopher Lloyd is probably best known for his role in the Back to the Future movies as Dr. Emmett Brown. In a complete turn-around from his comic roles in the Future series and TV’s Taxi (where Lloyd as Reverend Jim Ignatowski is an absolute space cadet), as Dr. Harvey Kelekian (similar sounding to Dr. Kavorkian and with an obvious sardonic twist), Lloyd is a no-nonsense, humorless research scientist.

    But the main kudos go to Thompson for her portrayal of a terminal cancer patient. She is quick with sardonic replies and overall is at least as hard on herself as she is on everyone around her.

    One of the final scenes is a very tender one wherein her mentor (played by Eileen Atkins) cradles her cancer-riddled body and reads her a children’s story.

    Both Herman and I were moved by the complex characters in this picture. And if it doesn’t seem like a typical Kathryn movie, it is even less-so a Herman-movie. But you have to experience it to understand the gripping performances that hold the viewer.

    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com