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Review - Denial

By midlandsmovies, Jan 31 2017 09:24PM

Denial (2017) Dir. Mick Jackson

With a rather eclectic Hollywood filmography including LA Story, The Bodyguard and 1997’s Volcano, director Mick Jackson shies from the schlocky sentimentality of those movies to the much shocking issues in Denial.

The film follows a British trial where Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt is taken to court by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. Lipstadt is played by an American-accented Rachel Weisz whilst the arrogant scholar Irving is embodied by a haughty Timothy Spall. With the convoluted UK legal system and laborious law processes proving to be frustrating, Weisz leaves her reputation in the hands of solicitor Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott) who refuses to be drawn into the incredibly emotional aspects of the case.

Also in the legal team is Tom Wilkinson, as barrister Richard Rampton, who visits the concentration camp at Auschwitz with the rest of the team in an attempt to get to the facts of the case. Pushing the emotions to one side, he searches for evidence before the trial begins and Irving himself uses his media audience for his own self-centred exploits.

The film presents a balancing act of our human disgust at the atrocities, so well documented over the years, played against a court case where only the best evidence will do. Conflicts occur between Weisz and her team over one of the most emotional issues in human history yet the film forces the audience to throw those passionate feelings to one side to objectively disprove Irving’s ludicrous claims.

A pivotal scene when Weisz finally realises, and respects, the decisions made by an aloof Tom Wilkinson - which subsequently leads to Irving being revealed as the fool he is - was a dramatic high point in the film. Wilkinson’s subtle techniques as the character AND as an actor show him to be a master of his craft and he later brings a sensitivity to the role over a drink with Lipstadt. Convincing her to not give Irving the satisfaction of dragging victims to the dock, he and his team know that winning is the goal. The only possible goal and they will achieve it despite their feelings.

It was nice to see Mark Gatiss in a serious role as a local Polish historian and although Spall is great as Irving, his hammy waffling contrasts to the understated Wilkinson and its Tom, not Tim, who comes out on top. Both as actor and in the courtroom.

The film’s scenes at Auschwitz so many years later remind the audience of the ongoing efforts to maintain the site as a physical shrine but the history goes beyond the walls and gates and permeates our very soul. A sobering account of a court case that should have never occurred in the first place, the first rate acting helps create a very watchable drama that covers an event in recent history that reminds us to protect the events of the past.


Midlands Movies Mike

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