Hot Take: More than adequate take on a true story that is really difficult to fathom although it’s a little easier to believe after last week’s election, if I’m being honest.
It might take a review or two to get all of the passive aggressive comments about last week’s election out of my system, so bear with me. Thanks to some arbitrary lines, the electoral college ignored the will of the people for the second time in my lifetime and now an Internet troll will be stationed in the White House and the media will be forced to call him President of the United States. Then again, this happened in 2000 and we didn’t bother to correct our flawed election process because, well, that might have been too difficult, I guess. And we saw how well that Presidency worked out, didn’t we? Anyway, moving on.
So, Denial. Based on the incredible true story of Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) who was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) for comments she made about Irving in a book about the Holocaust. In England, you can sue someone for libel and they are forced to defend themselves and prove their comments weren’t libel. In these cases you are guilty until proven innocent. Unlike the United States where you are innocent until proven guilty. Unless, of course, you are Hillary Clinton because then you are guilty even if you are cleared repeatedly. Anyway, back to Denial.
Overall, Denial was a pretty intriguing look at the case and the process of which Lipstadt had to go through to prove her innocence and also prove that Irving was indeed purposely misappropriating historical information to make a case that the Holocaust didn’t happen. It was different to watch a film about the Holocaust that focused on what occurred without the often difficult to watch imagery of other Holocaust films. The message was still as powerful even without the haunting visuals of Concentration Camps and the visual recreations of the torture and murder of Jews that occurred during World War II.
Weisz’s performance was especially impressive. Her take on Lipstadt wasn’t quite Oscar worthy but depending on how the Oscar season works out, it might get mentioned a few times as an outside shot of earning a nomination. The two main members of her legal team Anthony Julius and Richard Rampton were played expertly by Andrew Scott and Tom Wilkinson respectively. Scott and Wilkinson both delivered strong performances and Wilkinson especially was brilliant in the role of Rampton. As for Spall who played Irving, it was tough to decipher whether Spall’s performance was cartoonish or Irving’s character just lends itself to being described as a cartoon. I’d lean toward the latter but it could be the former.
In the end, Denial provides a low-key, matter of fact retelling that organically produces an emotional response to the unfolding events on screen. Rather than take an inciting method to earn the emotions of the audience, the film treats the details of the case with respect and takes a rather long and difficult legal proceeding and neatly fits it in just under 2 hours without losing any of the importance or gravity of the historical event.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Courtroom Scenes
The courtroom scenes were well done and Wilkinson shines in those moments. The film lacks a theatrical vibe which makes these scenes feel more authentic and adds to the appeal of the film.
- The Aftermath of Auschwitz
The legal team and Lipstadt must visit Auschwitz early on in the film and these scenes are especially powerful without much effort from the filmmaker to add any artificial emotional string tugging making these scenes that much more impressive.
- No One Grabbed Anyone By the Pussy
Seriously, we now have a President who said that (among other horrible unacceptable things) and people still voted for him. At least this movie had none of that.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Subtle Might Be Too Sedating
Denial is subtle in its telling and spends a lot of time doling out facts rather than incendiary moments. After the opening scene which is featured prominently in the trailer where Lipstadt and Irving square off at a Q&A for Lipstadt’s book, the film is noticeably lacking of these high drama scenes. This might bore a few.
Like our President-elect, Irving is a troll. He made it far in his trolling of Lipstadt and up until last week, we’d hope we could say at least it didn’t happen in the United States. Unfortunately, Irving’s success remained on the fringe, unlike our troll who has found his way to taking over the @POTUS account on Twitter. An Internet troll will actually be able to tweet from @POTUS. Let that sink in.