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
own account, HISTORY ON TRIAL: MY DAY IN COURT WITH A HOLOCAUST
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.