Denial Movie Review
Based on the true story of an author and historian who was forced to prove, in court, that the Holocaust actually happened, Denial is a CSPAN-level drama that fails to come close to its potential. Despite featuring a talented cast including Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall, Denial is a disappointing drama through and through.
While not completely disengaging, Denial takes a very paint-by-numbers approach, offering little reason to go to court. The movie is a legal drama, but director Mick Jackson struggles to establish any form of rhythm or insight into the protagonists’ efforts to build and prove its case. The movie highlights some interesting legal points that arise, but the filmmakers don’t know what to do with them.
The film’s fatal flaw may have been the decision to focus on historian Deborah E. Lipstadt (Weisz) and not her lawyers. While Lipstadt is at the center of the case, the woman herself—as portrayed in the movie, that is—is pretty useless and even obnoxious. The film’s biggest scenes often involve Deborah arguing the moral merits of the case with her own lawyers, where a much more interesting angle would have been to focus exclusively on the case’s rather unique legal requirements: to actually prove something that most rational people simply acknowledge as truth.
Weisz herself is perfectly fine, but for the reasons above, it’s hard to truly appreciate her performance; her character is obnoxious, and Weisz doesn’t do enough to elevate her character above the so-so material handed to her.
Denial isn’t a terrible movie, but it isn’t very good either; other than the underlying true story, there isn’t much to see here.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.