The story of Holocaust denier David Irving and the court case he brought against actual historian Deborah Lipstadt over claims she made in her book about the Holocaust and those idiots who believe that it never happened. Timothy Spall plays Irving and gives one of his strongest performances to date in this court room drama, playing one of the most horrid people you’ll ever see on screen.
When I was a teenager, back in the dark ages, I went on a school trip to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, the overwhelming feeling of horror and sadness still hovering in the air even over forty years later was just a little too much and after an hour I went back to our coach and sat there in shock. That was when I started to realise that true evil wasn’t some dream monster or beast it was an ordinary man who could just whip the populous into a frenzy and manipulate them to do his will. The images that I saw at that memorial, those in the films Schindler’s List, and the documentary The Man who could see Tomorrow, will never leave me and sadly we won’t learn from history. Will we?
Here Rachel Weisz plays Lipstadt, a true historian and Jewish lady, who will call out Deniers but won’t debate them. Her latest book names David Irving and makes a few comments about him. When Irving sues her through a British court it’s down to Lipstadt to prove that the Holocaust happened and that Irving is nothing more than a racist hiding behind books. Andrew Scott, from Sherlock, gives a strong performance as the solicitor who has taken on the case and Tom Wilkinson is magical as the Barrister who has to argue the case in front of a Judge. Every performance in this film is good, there are no weak links, and I’m sitting here as usual at ten minutes to six in the morning writing this review down, knocking my head against the wall, trying to make peace with the fact that this is a three out of five rather than the four out five I want to give it.
The issue with that one point is that the court room part of the film is rushed over, maybe it’s historically accurate, but there lacks a huge punch. The cast here are wonderful and well written outside of the court, but I just found that the scenes in front of the judge take away from the feeling of impact that this film should have. After leaving the cinema I went up to the PR person in charge of this film and said that I’d love to see Timothy Spall play Donald Trump, and then when I got home I thought about that, David Irving and Donald Trump have a lot in common. You’ll have to watch Denial to think that one through.
Denial is not a bad film, it’s really interesting, the performances invoke a emotional response, it’s perfectly designed, and the horrid fashions of the late 90’s are there for all to see. The problem is that the knock out punches in the court room scenes never seem to materialise and that is my problem. I can’t knock another movie for lacking the same thing and then gloss over this review because there are stronger performances all around.
I’d watch this film again any time, and all the performers involved should be exceptionally proud of themselves. There is one scene coming to the end of the film that sums up these ‘Facts are open to discussion’ idiots and modern culture in a line. Lets see if you can spot it. Worth checking out.