Nominated for the Best British Film at this years BAFTAs, ‘Denial’ tells the true story of the David Irving vs Penguin Books Ltd case. The focus of which came down to the beliefs of Holocaust denier Irving and his accusation that writer Deborah Lipstadt had unfairly discredited his work as a historian.
The majority of this film is a courtroom drama, so you should know from that whether or not this will be your kind of thing. I found the narrative to be quite fascinating though, firstly I wasn’t even aware that there were people, those labelled Holocaust deniers, who don’t believe that this event took place and secondly when asked for proof that it did take place I had always just accepted it before this. The film certainly makes you think twice about plainly accepting what you are told or have learned about something and it allows you to wonder just how accurate different historical sources are. As a result the film was able to hold my interest quite easily and the courtroom drama was always entertaining. In the earlier stages of the film the story ventures further a field than just the courtroom and I thought these sections were also done well, the highlight being some investigatory scenes at Auschwitz. Usually with films based on true stories you get a little bit of extra information at the end of the film about the characters or subsequent events however ‘Denial’ chooses to leave this out, it’s not a massive flaw but I did miss finding out that little bit more extra information which often makes for a more rounded ending too.
The cast is lead by Rachel Weisz who plays Deborah Lipstadt, Weisz has impressed me a lot with her recent roles and nothing changes here. Her character is often a frustrating focal point, you don’t always agree with her and at times she can be hard to route for. This made for an interesting dynamic within the characters though and something I wasn’t quite expecting. Her opponent in the courtroom, David Irving is played by Timothy Spall. He’s quite detestable in the role and commits a lot to his performance, he plays the character in the necessary way to make the court case and therefore the film engaging for the audience. Making up Lipstadt’s legal team were actors Tom Wilkinson and Andrew Scott. This has got to be one of Scott’s best supporting roles in film, he gets a good bit to do and his no nonsense lawyer character makes for a good sparring partner with his client, Lipstadt. Wilkinson almost worked as a mediator between the two and again benefits from one of his better roles in recent years, excelling in the courtroom scenes it’s beyond satisfying watching Wilkinson deliver the defense of his client.
‘Denial’ tells a fascinating true story which I was shocked to know nothing about considering it took place in the not so distant past, so I’m very glad this film has highlighted the events of this court case. The drama is good, the cast are better than good and the characters definitely allow for an interesting chemistry. I would have liked to have found out more information at the end, giving the film a more natural ending or even a tribute to those involved with the larger scale of events. Nonetheless ‘Denial’ is an enlightening and satisfying watch.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite court room film?
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