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SYNOPSIS: Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) fights a legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (Timothy Spall), who accuses her of libel when she declares him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, the burden of proof is on the accused, therefore it is up to Lipstadt and her legal team to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Louise Keller:
The fascinating thing about Mick Jackson's film is the unexpected strategy the lawyers take to counter the claim the Holocaust never occurred. The film may be a little dry, but the topic is not. Nor are the performances from a strong cast headed by Rachel Weisz as the historian appalled at having to bear the burden proof, Tom Wilkinson as the barrister who likes opera, fly fishing and whisky and Timothy Spall as the glib denier, who is as slippery as an eel swimming in a pool of oil. Based on Deborah Lipstadt's book, David Hare's screenplay focuses on the topic, immersing us in the protagonist's life and beliefs before opening our minds to the larger issues. It is an intellectually stimulating film that raises not only questions about the Holocaust, but about the issues of potentially proving any historical event has occurred.

'War is a bloody business,' says history professor Deborah Lipstadt (Weisz). The action begins by the disruption of her University class with the theatrical arrival of controversial English historian and Holocaust denier David Irving (Spall). It's a riveting scene and the precursor for the move to Central London for the court case. It is there that Lipstadt first meets her lawyer, the high profile Anthony Julius (Anthony Scott), who negotiated Lady Diana's divorce. We quickly learn that Julius is but one of a large team of lawyers and barristers engaged to handle the case. Scott brings just the right amount of personality to Julius' dry legal eagle.

It is easy to understand Lipstadt's dismay and disbelief in the strategy in which her voice is gagged - as is the voices of the Holocaust survivors. We also feel her horror at the apparent insensitive approach taken by her barrister Richard Rampton (Wilkinson) when they meet at Auschwitz and stand on the roof of the gas chambers. The scene is somewhat of a distraction, however. The courtroom scenes show Rampton in a different light. His technique is brilliant and never allows eye contact. Spall is superb: the scenes in which he is grilled in court are some of the film's best. A discussion could be held as to whether or not more tension might have been created had the film been allowed to play out as a courtroom drama. Denial plays out a bit like the English: understated, with its explosions of the intellectual kind.

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(US/UK, 2016)

CAST: Rachel Weisz, Andrew Scott, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Gatiss, Jack Lowden, Harriet Walter, Alex Jennings, Caren Pistorius, Andrea Deck, Maximilian Befort

PRODUCER: Gary Foster, Russ Krasnoff

DIRECTOR: Mick Jackson

SCRIPT: David Hare (book by Deborah Lipstadt)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Haris Zambarloukos

MUSIC: Howard Shore


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes



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