Film Review: Denial

Mick Jackson’s Denial is a courtroom drama that offers a good script and superb performances from its leads.

Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah Lipstadt has just published her latest book, on the subject of Holocaust denial. Infamous Holocaust denier David Irving decides to bring a libel case against her in the UK courts. It is up to Deborah and her team to prove that the Holocaust happened…

Despite the action taking place seventeen years ago, Denial feels like a very contemporary film. Following the real life libel case brought by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt, the issues which arise (the contention of truth, and alternative fact) feel very pertinent. Moreover, the antagonist bears some hallmarks of today’s malefactors.

The narrative focuses on the lead up to the lawsuit, and subsequent court case which occurred in 2000. The first section of the film sets the scene with ease, introducing the main players in a succinct manner. There is the necessary exposition, with the unfamiliarity of British law explained to both Deborah and the audience. The screenplay, by David Hare, excels in painting its characters in an authentic light. Deborah’s interaction, and indeed the friction in her law team, seems realistic. Moreover, as the film progresses, director Mick Jackson impresses both the importance of the case, and the impact it has on the main characters.

Denial delivers great performances from its two leads. Rachel Weisz is very convincing as Lipstadt, and delivers the emotional aspect of her character exceptionally well. Spall is fantastic as Irving, offering a compelling performance. Tom Wilkinson provides able support as Richard Rampton.

As much as it delves slightly into the horrors of the Holocaust, the film keeps the attention on the libel case. It is a better film for this; Denial concentrates instead on the importance of truth, and the consequences of alternative facts being given credence.

Denial is out on DVD on Monday 5th June 2017.