I won’t deny it, I am writing this review like a month late. The site was down for over a month, I was busy, and honestly, I kept forgetting about the film itself.
That isn’t a good way at all to start talking about the film Denial, because if I can barely remember it after watching it, that isn’t saying a lot. Nor does my visible rating.
I will get into it later, but Denial actually does tell an interesting AND important story. It is worth existing. The execution is just the issue. And people watching it and not telling others about it. Yeah, I am also part of the problem, whoops.
I am not denying that Denial exists, I am just forgetful sometimes.
Take out your time machine, because we are going way back. Way, way back, to the mid-1990’s! Dr. Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a historian and Jewish history scholar, focusing of course on the Holocaust. She has written many books about it and believes one should not argue with a Holocaust denier because that gives them some level of credibility and they don’t even deserve that much.
And then David Irving (Timothy Spall), a very famous Holocaust Denier and Hitler scholar started to argue with her. He hijacked one of her lectures. He posted it online to make her seem week. And then he sued her for libel, because she called him a liar and worse in one of her books.
But Irving didn’t sue her for libel in America. Nope, he did it in Britain. See, normally in America, for a libel suit, the party who claims libel has to prove it. In Britain, the party who is being sued has to prove what they said is true instead. An interesting twist.
Well, Lipstadt says fuck that. She won’t settle or retract. She has to prove that not only was Irving as a Holocaust denier wrong, but he intentionally gave incorrect information in order to lie. Aka, prove that he wasn’t stupid, but there was malice and intent in his words. That is a hard thing to do. Especially because if they do it wrong, they are going to be potentially putting the Holocaust itself on trial, which is not a good place to be at. It is disrespectful!
British court of Law is also funny in other ways.
The story for Denial is a good one, yes, sure. It offers a TON of moral questions for the trial. What methodology will they use to prove the Holocaust existed without putting the Holocaust on trial itself? How can they prove he knows the truth and is choosing to lie? Couldn’t they just bring in a bunch of survivors to tell their stories?
No. Apparently no at all to the last one. The lawyers don’t want to put them up on the stand and have a denier heckle them and denounce their harsh experiences. The hardest part for Lipstadt is letting go and trusting in lawyers who know more about British law than her.
Again, a fine story. And fantastic acting. Weisz, Wilkinson, and Spall. Especially Spall! Spall always plays these villain roles, but this one is something else and he has all sorts of mannerisms and ways of speaking that just fill him out completely. And he lost an incredible amount of weight it looks like to, a surprise to see.
The issues I have with this movie is that it feels like it also has an incredible amount of filler. There are a lot of down moments, some solemn given the topic, but just slow and repetitive feeling moments. Add in an ending that almost feels anti-climatic, or a bit too made for TV and the movie just seems to lose a lot of impact.
It could have been a truly great film, but there are too many minor points to keep it from rising to the top.