Out this weekend in Irish cinemas is Denial a film based on a true story starring Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott and Tom Wilkinson.
Denial is the story of Deborah Lipstadt (Weisz), a Jewish teacher in Seattle who is sued by British historian David Irving (Spall) for declaring he is a “holocaust denier” in her book. She is brought to the British courts by Irving and to defend herself she has to prove that he is in fact, a holocaust denier. Helping her fight this battle is Anthony Julius (Scott) and Richard Rampton (Wilkinson).
What stood out to me about Denial was the subject manner, I personally had never heard about holocaust deniers. The concept of holocaust deniers is a confounding one, how can anyone believe that such a heinous act did not happen? It was deeply engaging and watching the story play out was incredibly informative. Unfortunately, the characters were a mixed bag, Weisz comes off as annoying and clichéd as the self-proclaimed heroine which is unfortunate because she is supposedly the emotional lynchpin of Denial but for me, she just didn’t work.
Thankfully she is surrounded by a solid supporting cast. Timothy Spall is fascinating as David Irving who is eerily similar to another notable personality that has come into providence recently. Andrew Scott and Tom Wilkinson also give winning performances grounding the film whenever Weisz goes a little too Hollywood with her acting. Wilkinson has some of the best scenes, giving a lot of emotionally arresting scenes with Weisz elevating her at the same time. One scene at Auschwitz was suitably melancholic and emotionally distressing.
If there were any other problems with Denial it is that at times the audience is given too much exposition, all nuance and subtlety is thrown out the window and is replaced with a speech that recaps what has happened a few scenes previous. It’s a shame because any trust the director has built with the audience is lost when information is spoon fed back to them.
Denial is a fascinating look at the Holocaust reminding the world of an event that should never be forgotten. With great acting and a weighty subject matter, Denial is a remarkable but flawed film.
If you’d like to learn more about the Holocaust and become a part of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day in Ireland check out their page here.