Wednesday, 1 February 2017

'Denial' Review

When university lecturer Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) includes Historian David Irving (Timothy Spall) in her book about Holocaust deniers, he accuses her of defamation and libel sparking a legal court case. It is Lipstadt's job to prove that the holocaust did indeed happen as she assembles a team to make sure that the truth is known.

It's utterly baffling to think that somebody would try and make the allegation that something so awful like the holocaust never happened. That's the stand that protagonist Deborah Lipstadt takes as David Irving makes this absurd point against her works spawning this one-sided courtroom drama. The subject matter allows this drama to work only so far. Spall's Irving becomes an instantly unlikeable villain due to what is at stake and the subject matter brings some very emotional scenes. The trip to Auschwitz and the pleas from those who survived the terrible conditions are enough to make the audience feel for those involved in those awful crimes.

As for the cast, they do very well with what the film allows them to do. Weisz's character does very well, showcasing great emotion and will to keep quiet when she really wants to give Irving a piece of her mind. Weisz is incredibly likeable and finds herself a bit taken back at first but then proceeds to show great courage, passion and determination as the film progresses. Spall is great as Irving, bringing a squirmy, unlikeable character, much like that of his 'Harry Potter' character Peter Pettigrew. Spall is charismatic and brings across a genuine, authentic feeling that this man believed that the holocaust was an agenda completely made up. The two leads are the standouts by far and really carry this drama.

Despite the best efforts of the cast, there simply isn't enough content within this film to last a feature length film. The film starts off fairly well with the first confrontation between Lipstadt and Irving and from there, you expect the film to really kick into gear. The case is put forward but the film proceeds to jump days, months and years ahead as the film moves very slowly to the eventual cases. Yes, this may make this film more realistic due to how something like this can be drawn out. But that isn't necessarily the best thing for a feature length movie as it moves without many things happening or tension being created. Slow burn dramas can be executed very well as long as you feel it building up or that if it is interesting or engaging enough. The film would be much better suited to a shorter format, like a made for TV short film or a Netflix special.

The story doesn't really allow for the courtroom drama to have both sides going back at each other. Due to this, the film loses some of its drama and tension as it doesn't allow both sides to make arguments that make it look as if one side is edging in front of the other. The eventual case is all one sided and we are only given information that has not been showcased, mentioned or even hinted at before during the film. The reveals could've been handled much better to create a more impactful and shocking look at what Irving has done. Instead, it was just mildly effective. There's nothing game-changing in this drama in what felt quite safe considering the subject matter. There could've been a lot more done with this film but instead, there's a lot of meetings, jogging and not enough twists and turns.

A film based on a recent court case with such a serious subject should have been a lot more impactful. There are moments in the film that do make the most out of the subject but there simply isn't enough for this film to be memorable. Although there isn't anything done terribly and the film has some great performances, the film overall fails to deliver the impact that it was looking to do so.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Denial'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing this movie or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor