This is not an easy watch by any means. Timothy Spall is fantastic and plays the denial character well. So well in fact, despite that I love him as an actor, I hate him in this. Truth is of course my feelings are really directed at the real life character he portrays, David Irving and any other holocaust denier for that matter. That this is a true story is most detestable of all. There's an undercurrent to this story though, away from the matter of the holocaust. It's that of the law, the way it works and the way people can work within it. How it can be used to protect racist, antisemitic people. How the simple right and wrong of the court is hard to equate in the real world and how the those wishing to justify their crimes use it, bend it and twist it for their defence. That the law protects everyone, even evil and unapologetically stupid people like David Irving and people like him. Freedom of speech is not freedom to lie. As a film, this is good, solidly acted, Tom Wilkinson being the stand out for me, but it could've been a little better, less glossy perhaps with such an important subject. Still, I'm very pleased that this story was brought to the screen. Holocaust denial is crap and every opportunity to call it so should be encouraged.
Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a Jewish history writer. She refuses to debate holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) but he continues to confront her. In her latest book, she ridicules him and he sues her in London for defamation. To her shock, the burden of proof is on her. She hires Princess Di's lawyer Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott). She goes to Auschwitz with lawyer Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson). There are limitations to making this history come to life. This is surprisingly compelling considering that it's a stodgy court drama. It's able to bring some interesting FACTS to light. When Julius forbids survivors from testifying, I wonder if they would climax with the expected testimonies. In fact, I wonder if Lipstadt would be beaten up by neo-Nazis in a darken alley to amp up the climax. It doesn't do any of that. There is a limited climax and some tension throughout. The weight of history is quite heavy but the historical outcome is not much in doubt.
The historical drama 'Denial' by Mick Jackson thematizes the post- truth world by focusing on the topic of Holocaust denialism and the lawsuit of David Irving against historian Deborah Lipstadt.Referring to the Leuchter report, historic writer and self-appointed historian Irving claims that the Holocaust never existed and even accuses survivors of it as frauds. Historian Lipstadt publishes a book in which she stands up against these lies, but Irving fights back in form of a lawsuit, since his reputation is now ruined. A few years later, Lipstadt and her lawyers must prove that she is in the right and that the Nazi regime's crimes against humanity happened.This film really has the finger on the pulse: It conveys a topical message to the audiences and raises significant questions how far the freedom of speech goes. By exposing the tactics of Mr. Irving, it draws a parallel to today's alt-right movement and how they create their own alternative version of the world (and of history). Even here on IMDb are people who defend Irving (actually, quite alarmingly lot), although he is a Hitler apologist, an open racist and denies the crimes against humanity the national socialists committed. As Lipstadt expounds, denying the Holocaust and being pro-Nazism is against the basic principles of modern societies. Thus, no one can call the film ''biased'', as there is just one acceptable opinion! - but that's another point and maybe this is not the best place here to discuss it. The film talks about this, especially in the end, highlighted by a strong, terrific statement by Lipstadt. Moreover, there are two brilliant scenes where barrister Richard Rampton, played by Tom Wilkinson, undertakes a frontal attack against Irving and unmasks his lying strategy. Applause, applause!The second big plus of the film is its accurate authenticity conveyed by the actors – ALL of them are glorious in their roles. My big respect goes to Timothy Spall who interprets the disgusting character of Irving in a chilling way. Rachel Weisz really shows how important the history for Deborah Lipstadt is and gives her a heroic warmth, but also a sentimental side. All the humanity which is missing in Irving can be found in her. Tom Wilkinson and Andrew Scott portray the lawyers Rampton and Julius who focus on the facts and figures much to the dismay of Lipstadt. But both get some human scenes as well and it is more than pleasant to see the showdown between Rampton and Irving where he finally looks this man in the eyes and takes him down. Again applause! Some conflicts appear between Lipstadt and her lawyers, but sadly they are only adumbrated: Julius has obviously some other motives than justice and Deborah has a rumpus with him over the question whether the Holocaust survivors should testify or not. Ultimately, this is never played out fully, but is compensated by the authentic performances of the main actors.Sounds like a food-for-thought-drama to watch, nevertheless its IMDb ratings are not always so rosy (even by people who are not Irving fans, I suppose :)). Why so? The biggest problem of the film, beside its uninspirational and easy forgettable score is that the main enemy, Mr. Irving, is very soon forced onto the defensive. There are some scenes where he tries to manipulate and win over the judge and the public, but there is no offensive counter strike against Lipstadt, not a gripping confrontation. I do not think that this makes the film boring, no, the 109 minutes pass by quickly, but on the contrary, it also eliminates any surprises concerning the dramaturgy of the storyline. Thanks to several questions – How can something which definitely happened be proved in court? What is the price of fighting for the truth?... – and thanks to the extreme degree of topicality, an interested viewer will keep watching. This validates that the film makes something right. Nonetheless, the criticism that 'Denial' feels in part generic, because of its lack of originality and suspense may not seem too far- fetched. For example: the scenes in the court, which use the real dialogue of the trial, give the film a documental touch, but may seem a bit low- paced to some.Overall, the message and topic of 'Denial' is so pertinent for the current condition the discussion culture in democracies finds itself. This film can bolster all who fear that far-right politicians like Marine Le Pen or Donald Trump can skew the history with their alternative facts. Instead, the story of David Irving's downfall proves that truth will always win. Without a shadow of a doubt, the film has a noble ambition and a significant message, but in a cinematic sense, Denial is not a perfect film – I really don't know who to blame for the genericism. More depth and less generic courtroom discussions and lawyer meetings would have been appropriate. Not only the audiences but the topic deserves it.Generous 8 pts.