Denial – Review

There are horrible things in the world. Abhorrent and awful things that try to infiltrate our lives and destroy it. We’re in the midst of the struggle with terrorism, unhinged political candidates, and movements towards a totalitarian state of being. In these times of despair, we have to move forward, and by doing this, we remember the past and how it has impacted us thus far. Especially when racism and prejudice tightens our views and contorts it into hatred for a particular race.

One of the most horrific acts in history is the Holocaust where thousands of Jewish, homosexual, and minorities were put to death at the hands of the Nazi party.

However, what may hurt people more is that there are people who believe this never happened and continue to use its “falsehood” as a way to push their anti-semitic and racist beliefs. This is the topic of new drama Denial.

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Starring Timothy Spall and Rachel Weisz, the film revolves around the very true story about Jewish and Holocaust historian Deborah E. Lipstadt who is taken to court by David Irving after she declared him a Holocaust denier. Because, well, he denied that it ever happened. Soon it becomes a battle to solidify one of history’s most horrific events as an actual happening.

Denial is, by all means, a good film. One which suits that kind of Sunday night malaise where there isn’t much on and Channel 4 is screening a heavily truncated version due to the amount of adverts they are obliged to sell. And that’s it. Despite the hefty, weighted subject that is the core of the film, there isn’t much to fully invest in. After all, if you have seen a courtroom drama, you’ve seen them all and Denial isn’t going to give you any less or more.

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And that’s the most frustrating part of Denial. Its trying to be edgy. True, this did happen and the fact there are people out there in some sort of uproar at the slaughters of the Holocaust is mind-boggling. But the use of the subject in the rather mediocre film that is Denial, makes the whole enterprise somewhat fruitless. It also feels as though the film is hitching on to this shock to power the drama forward which feels alarmingly manipulative. There isn’t enough character substance to establish the leads away from their caricature-like real-life personas. We spend little time with Deborah as a person, beyond her Jewish heritage and the case whilst David Irving is made as snivelling and villain-like as possible. It isn’t HARD to do because, I mean, he’s a racist Holocaust denier BUT one shot of his young daughter isn’t enough to establish him as an actual human being which would make his character more realistic and more horrific.

The acting is good but that’s to be expected. When have you ever seen the likes of Andrew Scott, Rachel Weisz, and Timothy Spall phone in a performance? It’s just that the script is so basic and underwhelming that whatever performance our actors put in is wasted.

Denial acts like it’s a film much grander than it actually is – an Oscar bait movie without the muscle to push it into an original dramatic piece. Which is a shame, because the material at the centre deserved so much better.

Denial is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

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