Denial (12A) – A Preview

Directed by Mick Jackson, UK/USA, 2016, 110 mins

With Timothy Spall, Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson

In an age of alternative facts and fake news, Mick Jackson’s reconstruction of David Irving’s libel claim against Deborah Lipstadt couldn’t be timelier. This is a film that forensically dismantles Irving’s notorious Holocaust denial with a clarity and a quiet righteousness that never lets its target off the hook, but its also a film that is punchy and smart enough to work as a classic courtroom drama.

Rachel Weisz plays Deborah Lipstadt in a state of perpetual indignation, at both Irving’s outrageous claims and an English legal system that puts the burden of proof on the accused. David Hare’s precise and unsensational screenplay cleverly plays with our expectations as first Andrew Scott, as her maddeningly cool headed solicitor Anthony Julius, and then wine quaffing barrister Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson on top form) bamboozle with legal shenanigans. Only gradually does she, and the film’s audience, realise how cleverly these men are trapping Irving in a web of his own making, and how humane their apparent manoeuvring really is.

It’s says a lot about the strength of casting that Timothy Spall’s oleaginous Irving doesn’t overshadow the big questions in play here, due in no small part to his generous underplaying. Instead we see a small minded, vainglorious and ultimately rather pathetic little man, crushed by the weight of logic and fair mindedness, as objective facts triumph over ignorance and bigotry. In the words of David Hare, “this is not a film based on truth. It is the truth.”

By David Vass

To book tickets to see the film on the 4th October click here