It’s amazing to think there are people in this world who would actually deny the Holocaust happened, but that is the focus of the new film Denial starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson based on the real life trial of acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt who was sued for slander by Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall). Most people in America would think this would be an open and shut case, but the trial was held across the pond in England where their legal system is much different from ours leading to speculation that the embattled author could become liable if she is unable to prove the Holocaust actually did happen.
This legal location switcheroo leads to a unique film drama full of frustration propped up by two strong performances from Weisz and Wilkinson. The Oscar-winning actress plays the emotional centerpiece of the film as the “fish out of water” college instructor fighting for her reputation and livelihood against a bigot looking to make his lifework legit. Weisz seems like the type of character that is looking to have her big moments, but the strength in Weisz’s performances resides in her ability to make the outspoken Lipstadt muzzled for the greater good of history. It’s a struggle for the defender of the truth and shows swallowing your pride for what is right can make you feel downright awful and betrayed inside.
Tom Wilkinson plays her Bannister Richard Rampton in Denial, who also serves as Lipstadt’s guide through this frustrating judicial process she is unaccustomed to being from America. Wilkinson is superb as the mouthpiece for his annoyed American client leading the argument against Irving and the disrespectful mythology he is trying to pass on as truth. Believe it or Denial doesn’t completely bury Irving’s assumptions by providing an argument from the other side that does make you ponder the train of thought of a person who believes 6 million Jews were not murdered under the command of Adolf Hitler during WWII.
Outside of the strong performances from Weisz, Wilkinson and Spall; Denial is quite simple even with the London legal change-up. Not much of the characters personal lives are discussed and the focus is on the case work at hand. Some of the research involved leads to a somber sequence on location at Auschwitz, which will have you shaking your head at anyone who ever believed the Holocaust was over-exaggerated. The strong cast keeps Denial out of “Made for TV Movie” territory and shows the world that facts should always triumph over falsehoods.
Overall, I give Denial 3 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell