Coming to theaters this Friday from Emmy Award winning director Mick Jackson and Bleeker Street based on the book by Deborah Lipstadt is the question of history and those who live in “Denial.”
Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a writer that specializes in the history of the Holocaust. During one of her book speeches, David Irving (Timothy Spall) stood up and called her out and denied that the Holocaust ever existed. Upset with Lipstadt for mentioning his name in one of her books, the confrontation shook her up.
What came next would shake her up even more as Irving began a lawsuit against Lipstadt and publisher Penguin Books for libel. She would soon learn that the English judicial system is a little different and now she must prove that the Holocaust did exist in order to disprove the libel charge against her.
Hiring famous English lawyer Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott), Deborah quickly becomes frustrated how the system seems twisted. Julius brings Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) into the case knowing he will dig deeply into the history of the Holocaust. Bringing the case together, Rampton decides that a visit to Auschwitz is necessary as the burden of proof that the Holocaust existed needs experts.
Irving is quite sure of his own beliefs, so much so that he decides to represent himself in the case. Now Deborah, Julius and Rampton come to court with experts and a determination that will call Irving out on everything he believes is true.
Truth and delusion are about to collide!
Weisz as Lipstadt is a very strong character who has no difficulty standing up for her beliefs. I enjoy Weisz as an actress and her characterization of Deborah is very in-your-face. Understanding that English justice has its opposites, the word ‘quiet’ doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary. The scene in which Deborah wants to help Holocaust survivor Vera understand how the case was proceeding was tissue worthy.
Julius as Scott has a reputation because of Princess Diana but that is small compared to the case he has accept with Deborah. Strong and unattached, Julius tells is straight and doesn’t have a moment for theatrics. Aides Lowden as Libson and Pistorius as Tyler are presented as strong and emotional individuals who see that what is happening is necessary.
Two of the most outstanding performances are Spall as the shocking David Irving and Wilkinson as Richard Rampton. Spall takes his character into a dark place that is filled with the most unrelatable beliefs for most of the human race. This actor transforms into Irving as his facial expressions made me forget this was acting! Even losing didn’t change this man’s beliefs.
Wilkinson as Rampton just grabbed my heart from start to finish. Investigating in his own unique way, I totally understood everything that he did and why he did it. Even the trip to Auschwitz was a brilliant performance because his characters detachment has two effects; the audience understood it but also understood Deborah to frustration! Two sides of an emotional coin that was draining for everyone watching. That is brilliant acting by Wilkinson but I’d expect nothing less of him.
Other cast includes Alex Jennings as Sir Charles Gray, Mark Gatiss as Professor Robert Jan van der Pelt, John Sessions as Prof. Richard Evans, Nikki Amuka-Bird as Libby Holbrook, Nik Wachsman as Maximilian Befort and Will Attenborough as Thomas Robinson.
“Denial” is an intense look at the history during a time that no one will ever forget – nor should they. The handling of the subject matter is respectful but joltingly necessary. It doesn’t take much to become enraged at the ideas put forth by Irving because, as it is brought up, he honestly believes in what he says.
The film premiered at the San Diego Film Festival to an audience who reacted with strong emotions. This cast is not only perfect in bringing this story to the screen, but almost instantly brings the viewer into the emotion of the characters.
The film is based on the book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier” written by Deborah E. Lipstadt who was accused of libel by David Irving in 1996. After a trial a 334-page summary judgment was presented in Lipstad’s favor, she continued writing and in 2011 released “The Eichmann Trial.”
In the end — the whole world knows the Holocaust happened now she needs to prove it!