‘Denial’ tells the story of Deborah Lipstadt (here played marvelously by Rachel Weisz) and her battle versus Holocaust denier David Irving. The latter sued her for libel in the British courts stemming from statements she wrote in her book “Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory.” This case was celebrated much in the early 2000s, and I remember seeing the case updates on television, and of course, the eventual verdict. In this film, directed by Mick Jackson from a screenplay by David Hare (he wrote ‘Plenty’) we get to see how the case was tried.
And that’s it – that’s the premise of this two hour movie. Although the case is fascinating – and emotional, for sure – I felt it was bland. Since most viewers already knows the famous verdict, what do we get for conflict? Perhaps how conflicted Lipstadt was about the strategy of her legal team? The way Holocaust survivors were not given a voice during the trials? There was nothing much more to root for, and it doesn’t help that Irving’s character was written one-dimension like. Timothy Spall plays him like the villain that be is, but we already knew that. What drove his actions – past experience? bigoted parents? It would have been more interesting to see.
And Weisz’s Lipstadt doesn’t fare much better. Weisz gives a great performance, given she has nil to work with. I wish there were any kind of emotion anywhere, as this film feels like a procedural documentary. But this is still a very important to film to watch at this time for Americans, with the Presidential elections looming. We get to see how what happens when you give platform to a person with hate and bigotry in their hearts. Let’s learn out lesson.