Denial: Film Review


Denial doesn’t seem like a bundle of laughs – a courtroom drama about whether the Holocaust happened hardly makes for an enjoyable night at the cinema. However, it’s not as depressing or dense as you would expect, and it is poignant and absolutely fascinating.

Rachel Weisz plays real life U.S. historian Deborah Lipstadt, who is sued for libel by fellow historian David Irving (Timothy Spall) after she calls him a Holocaust denier, Hitler sympathiser, racist and extremist in her book. She wants to fight the case because settling would imply she also thinks the Holocaust didn’t happen, which is the complete opposite of her view. She recruits a legal team which includes Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott) and Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) and they go up against Irving, who is representing himself.

I know, it sounds dry and boring as hell. But I promise you, it’s not. I am someone who wasn’t a fan of history in school and I found it fascinating and extremely enlightening. Obviously, the Holocaust is taken seriously and the visit to Auschwitz is a particularly powerful and poignant moment but the film is largely focused on the trial and Irving’s antics and how they can prove he lied in his books to make history work in favour of his ideology.

Weisz aced the accent and both Wilkinson and Scott were great additions to the cast. I must commend Spall though because he portrays such an unlikeable character and it’s hard to find any redeeming qualities about him. It must have been tough to play yet he still manages to make Irving into a human rather than a caricature villain.

A lot of the scenes also revolve around hard-headed Lipstadt learning to trust her team even though their tactics for winning the case – banning her from taking the stand, talking to the press – put them at odds with each other. Lipstadt and Julius rub each other up the wrong way often and it’s entertaining to see. There are a number of laughable moments, which is really needed otherwise this could have been a really intense and arduous watch. It wasn’t at all, it was relatively easy to digest and not at all draining.

In cinemas Friday 26th January 

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