Run time: 110 MINS
Director: Mick Jackson
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott, Alex Jennings, Mark Gatiss
Synopsis: Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt is forced into a legal battle over historical truth – to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a notorious Holocaust denier, sues her for libel.
Released on Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27), this film from Director Mick Jackson [LA Story (1991), The Bodyguard (1992),Traffic (TV 1999)] is based on Professor Lipstadt’s acclaimed book Denial: Holocaust History on Trial and boasts a masterly dramatisation by celebrated writer/director, David Hare.
In September 1996, American academic Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz), a Jewish professor of Holocaust Studies, was sued for libel by British historian David Irving (Timothy Spall). He claimed that by branding him a Holocaust denier she had damaged his career. Crucially, the suit was brought in London, where the legal system places the burden of proof on the defendant. In order to win the case, her team had to demonstrate that Irving knew he was lying in denying the truth of the Holocaust. With Irving representing himself and hard-hitting barrister Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) in Lipstadt’s corner, the stage is set for the truth of the Holocaust to be put on trial in this riveting real-life courtroom drama.
With stellar performances all round, Weisz in particular convinces as Lipstadt, experiencing culture clash with the British legal system, forced to be emotionally restrained and silent to fit in with her lawyers’ brilliant strategy. Andrew Scott plays Anthony Julius of Mishcon de Reya (who had represented Diana, Princess of Wales in her divorce), her solicitor who brings in Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) as her barrister. The charismatic Wilkinson steals every scene he is in and his sequences with Weisz filmed at Auschwitz-Birkenau are truly memorable.
Timothy Spall is pitch-perfect as the cold, chilly, oleaginous Irving and there is superb ensemble support from Alex Jennings as trial judge Mr Justice Gray and Mark Gatiss, John Sessions and Harriet Walter.
Denial feels like a particularly timely and relevant film in the current atmosphere of post-truth and alternative facts, where attempts to distort historical truths are becoming more common and we see the constant normalisation of extreme attitudes.
Images courtesy of Entertainment One UK