Review: ‘Denial’ (2016)

Rachel Weisz in ‘Denial’ (2016)

If you saw the cast list for a film included Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall in the lead roles, you would likely think that what you are about to watch will automatically be good. In the case of Denial, you would be correct.

Based on a true story, Weisz stars as American historian Deborah Lipstadt, who is sued alongside her publisher Penguin Books in 1996. The case was filed by English historian David Irving, claiming she libeled him in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust. Many told Lipstadt to settle out of court, but she decided to take Irving on.

The focus of the film is almost entirely on the libel trial, with very little background given on Lipstadt or Irving. Despite a five-year legal case being compressed into a one hour and 45-minute film, it seems that Denial is very true to the real events. Most of the story is from the point-of-view of Lipstadt, as the film is based on her book regarding the trial; History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.

Weisz and Spall should rightly be praised for their brilliant performances; Weisz particularly for her emotionally charged role. She portrays the fight for truth, and carries the emotions that come with dealing in a sensitive subject such as the Holocaust. Lipstadt often spent time on set, speaking to the producers and giving her thoughts. Spall has said that his role was not to judge Irving or his beliefs, but to understand where he was coming from so he could create an accurate portrayal.

The script is from playwright David Hare, who has previously written the screenplays for The Hours (2002) and The Reader (2008). Clearly Hare has a brilliant hand for writing drama, and Denial is an excellent addition to his screenwriting credentials. This script is brought to life by the brilliant cast, which alongside Weisz and Spall includes Tom Wilkinson, Alex Jennings, and Andrew Scott & Mark Gatiss, both of BBCs Sherlock fame.

Despite being nominated for Outstanding British Film at the 2017 BAFTA ceremony, but losing to I, Daniel Blake, it seems that Denial has somewhat flown under the radar during its cinema release. I hope the DVD release will help the film gain a larger audience.

Denial will not appeal to all, but I feel those intrigued by the libel case or the story will be entertained upon viewing. This isn’t a film just for those interested in history or British law, but also for those looking to view a tense and poignant drama.

Denial is available to buy on DVD now.

Read the article at onthebox.com

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About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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