Once again, I wasn’t familiar with the original source material, but it was an intriguing idea that I had no idea was a thing: denying that the Holocaust ever happened. Seriously? That just seems like such a bonkers thing to say didn’t happen. But I guess there’s some smartish people out there that made some rather poignant observations at the time that there were no documents that proved the Holocaust ever happened, and then go and accuse the entirety of the Jewish community for making up lies to gain sympathy for their religion, or whatever the hell the bullshit reasons would be for something like this. I guess finally this debate got to the point where this went to court. In any case, I was interested in the story because if it wasn’t well-presented, it would be a bad film. And I like the cast, so I don’t want it to be a bad film.
Speaking of the cast, let’s talk about who stars in it. Rachel Weisz is definitely one of my favorites, having been in some pretty good and fun films over the years, like the first two Mummy films, CONSTANTINE (2005), THE FOUNTAIN (2006), including some pretty unique films this year, including THE LOBSTER and THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS. Timothy Spall, an actor I really wish I was more familiar with. I remember him from Harry Potter films AZKABAN (2004) and on, as well as ENCHANTED (2007), but I had no idea he was CHICKEN RUN (2000), THE LAST SAMURAI (2003), SWEENEY TODD (2007), or A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2004). But the more I see his name, the more I want to see his work because he’s such an engaging actor and my eyes are always glued to his performance. Finally, yet another British hurricane of awesome, Tom Wilkinson, who’s been in some downright incredible movies. BATMAN BEGINS (2005), ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004), and THE PATRIOT (2000) being my favorites. But he’s also in SNOWDEN (2016), SELMA (2014), THE DEBT (2010), and so many more. Oh and Harriet Walter makes an appearance. Remember the scene in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) when Chewbacca is getting treated for his injuries after the Resistance saves everyone and that woman says, “You must’ve been very brave.” Yeah, she’s in this movie. Oh, and she’s Christopher Lee’s niece. I don’t know why I find that cool, so let’s move on.
Behind the scenes. Directing is Mick Jackson, who is primarily a TV director and hasn’t done anything for the big screen since VOLCANO (1998). No comment… moving on. Penning the screenplay is David Hare, also primarily in TV and TV movies, but his big screen films include THE READER (2008) and THE HOURS (2002). Responsible for cinematography is Haris Zombarloukos, who’s worked on films like EYE IN THE SKY (2016), CINDERELLA (2015), THOR (2011), among others. Finally, and prepare to flip your lid because I didn’t know this going in, but the ever legendary Howard Shore is the composer. Oh yeah, the man behind the music for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy is attached here. Of course, other works that he’s done include THE DEPARTED (2006), SPOTLIGHT (2015), and so many others.
Honestly, I went in with some higher expectations. I thought it might was pretty promising. How does it hold up now that I’ve seen it?
This is my honest opinion of: DENIAL
Based on true events, set in 1996. Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a renowned historian and author, particularly regarding the Holocaust, who has recently been dealing with an resurgence of a particular historian named David Irving (Timothy Spall), who denies that the Holocaust ever happened, backing all of his claims that there isn’t one document that proves it. When the two finally meet, it doesn’t end well, resulting in Irving suing Deborah for libel. Now she travels to England where she and her team of lawyers and historians have to prove that the Holocaust exists, without the testimony of its survivors.
I kinda liked it, actually.
The more I watched it, the more frustrating it got. In a good way. I mean, really think about it, we’ve all grown up in school knowing the Holocaust happened. Maybe this is a big thing for you, maybe it’s just a historical event, either way, we know it happened. But then this guy, this very real guy who lives and breathes in our world, comes along and becomes the figurehead for any and all people who have the audacity to say that it didn’t happen. Right away, you feel as angry as Deborah. To make matters worse, she’s being sued for libel, and has be dragged from America to London to make her case in court… to clarify, SHE HAS TO PROVE THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED!!! Anyone getting whiff of pure bullshit up in here, or is it just me? What especially adds to the drama is how difficult it is to prove everything, and that Irving distorted truth to push his anti-Semite agenda. He didn’t have to prove anything.
It’s all very political, legal, and therefore complicated, so I can’t really explain what the details are. I’m not legally savvy. To make up for it, here’s the Wikipedia page for Irving v Penguin Books Ltd if you want the details:
Weisz owns this role. She perfectly portrays this woman who has to sit quietly in the court room and can’t argue with Irving in fear of making things worse for their case. But with every syllable that comes out of Irving’s mouth, you see the anger festering in Deborah’s eyes. Through Weisz, you hear every curse word, the pitch and volume of every scream that she’s bottling up, she is as usual, incredible.
And Spall, dear lord, this man… despite his unmistakeable face, he is a chameleon. The man may be a kind, quiet, dignified gentleman (I’m honestly just going off of what I saw from his THR interview) but he really made me want to punch Irving in his stupid little face. Spall is so slimy, so crude, such a sleeze-ball… it’s wonderful.
The performances all around make this movie, as well as the ideas behind the story. It’s an intriguing one and I think it’s worth checking out. Will this be for everyone? Probably not, but I think it’s pretty damn good.
My honest rating for DENIAL: 4/5
Upcoming films: 10/6/2016 – 10/13/2016
- THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
- MIDDLE SCHOOL: THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE
- THE BIRTH OF A NATION
Upcoming films: 10/13/2016 – 10/20/2016