• Review: Denial (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Thu Nov 24 19:56:17 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Jewish-American Deborah Lipstadt accuses
    Holocaust denier David Irving of lying about the
    Holocaust and is sued for libel. In spite of some
    very good acting the film too often fails to engage
    the viewer as being as emotionally gripping as its
    subject deserves. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

    DENIAL is a docudrama of an actual case of libel. The film tells
    the story of Holocaust denier David Irving's (Irving played by
    Timothy Spall) libel case against a Jewish-American, Deborah
    Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz). Irving had in his books denied that there
    was any murdering of Jews at Auschwitz. Lipstadt publicly called
    Irving a liar and in return he sued her in a London court.
    Lipstadt has a team of lawyers led by the estimable Richard Rampton
    played by the equally estimable Tom Wilkinson. Spall this leaner
    and more commanding than he has been in previous roles.

    Mick Jackson directs David Hare's adaptation of the
    autobiographical account by Deborah Lipstadt. To me the film
    ironically has the problem of not being manipulative enough.
    Accounts of vicious inhumanity that really took place really should
    incense the viewer. But DENIAL does not involve itself in the wide
    range of crimes against inhumanity that occurred at Auschwitz. It
    concerns itself only with the gas chamber murders. They were bad
    enough, but the film never creates for the viewer the wide range of
    atrocities and somehow this robs it of some of its power. This
    film is never as riveting as the similar film QB-VII. DENIAL was
    released during the Clinton-Trump campaign and can undoubtedly be
    seen as a commentary on that Presidential campaign. Of course it
    is one of several films that seem to have that interpretation.

    It would have been an obvious choice for Weisz to play Lipstadt as
    faultless, particularly since the film is adapted from Lipstadt's
    DENIER." Instead she is played as a little foolish and naive about
    the British legal system. She seems to feel that as long as she
    has right on her side she need not worry about points of strategy.
    This creates a double conflict for her. She is opposing Irving, of
    course, but she also wants to speak and have Holocaust survivors
    come and bear witness to the atrocities. This gives the film an
    opportunity to tell the viewer about the differences between the
    British legal system, which does not guarantee freedom of speech,
    and the system she was used to in the United States. At times the
    discourse is even philosophical. Much of the case rests on the
    question of whether a falsehood the speaker truly believes really
    is a lie or not.

    Overall the film is just a tad dry while covering such poignant
    issues. I rate DENIAL a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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