• by Wes Singleton

Denial, B

Rated PG-13, 110 minutes
The superbly acted, compelling new drama "Denial" tells the story of a court case that legally proved the Holocaust actually happened. It sounds a little silly to hear, but it's a true story of the Lipstadt case in 2000 that ended up in court in Great Britain. Though uneven in places, the powerful performances from the talented cast keep the film together. The film recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s (Rachel Weisz) legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (British character actor Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, in cases of libel, the burden of proof is on the accused, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team, led by Richard Rampton (Oscar-nominee Tom Wilkinson), to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. Directed by Mick Jackson (of TV's "Temple Grandin"), and written by Oscar-nominee David Hare ("The Reader"), the thought-provoking "Denial" is a stirring look at a real case that essentially said that the Holocaust was a real event, at least according to the courts, though it was a event that had actually been proven long before that. Based on Lipstadt's book "History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier" and handsomely produced, "Denial" is most worthy for its memorable performances, particularly from Spall in the showy role as historian Irving, and as her attorney, Wilkinson, and there are a couple of strong scenes of them sparring in court. Interestingly, as the professor whose book instigated the case, Oscar-winner Weisz is miscast, with too much age difference in the real Lipstadt and a New York accent that occasionally slips, throwing the film off a bit and losing a bit of its power (I could easily see someone a little older and a little more brassy, such as Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, nailing the part). The middle act is also too talky, but once the movie gets back into court, "Denial" also gets back to a better, more engaging flow. Even with its flaws and heavy subject matter, "Denial's" satisfying story, along with an excellent Spall and Wilkinson, is worth checking out.

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