Denial

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  • forwardswill
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    Apr 9th, 2013
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    #1201972259

    Don’t think there is a thread for this but happy to be redirected.

    Having just watched this film this evening I am quite shocked at how little attention it has received this awards season and by the muted reaction from critics. Yes it doesn’t turn the story of Deborah Lipstadt taking on holocaust denier David Irving into some spectacular showdown as seen on a typical courtroom drama, but what it does instead is something quite beautiful.

    The screenplay, by David Hare, roots the entire film in the debate but without ever becoming something dull due to its careful creation of character and subtle toying with emotion. For example, where a more inflammatory interpretation would have rammed home the tears and devastation of a visit to Auschwitz and made this the emotional climax, this film subtly encapsulates the debate in these moments by displaying concretely that what happened was a travesty. There’s no need to theatrics because these belong to Irving’s lies not to the truth.

    The ensemble is expectedly fantastic. Rachel Weisz gives her best performance in years particularly as Lipstadt struggles with the morality of her lawyers’ chosen tactics. It’s become cliche to say it of actresses this year, but I firmly believe in any other year Weisz would be in serious awards contention. Tom Wilkinson gives perhaps my best Supporting Actor performance of the year, carefully revealing a man who has more passion for the debate than he is allowing himself to show. Timothy Spall, perhaps co-lead depending on how you interpret, meanwhile does a fine job of not turning Irving into the caricature that he could have been. Andrew Scott is another standout.

    Overall, whilst I’d say the film is perhaps 5-10 minutes too long, it still remains the best I’ve seen this year.

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    Adam Rock
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    #1201972267

    Nice assessment. I saw this a while back when the race was still pretty wide open. I really liked it. Rachel Weisz gave a very strong performance but I definitely thought Tom Wilkinson was the standout. I think the critics sort of kicked it aside because of the topic and didn’t really give it a chance from the beginning. It only played in my local theatre for a week then it was gone.

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    PJ Edwards
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    #1201972308

    Saw this a while back. Movie was alright. Feel bad that Timothy Spall couldnt get any traction. Bleeker Street still hit though with Captain Fantastic.

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    Filmatelist
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    #1201972364

    As someone who read all the (exhaustive, extraordinary) court transcripts for this case, I was disappointed that more time wasn’t spent in the courtroom.  There are a few scenes, but the backroom strategy took up a huge chunk of the time and that gave the merits of the court case short shrift.  I think the film suffers from it and so the verdict lacks impact because we’ve constantly been *told* what the outcome should be and not *shown* enough of why.  In this sense, it’s similar to GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI, though this film is unquestionably better.

    Weisz is fine but her character is done little favors by constantly being a foil against the legal team.  I don’t know if some of that is exaggerated for melodramatic effect, but it ends up disempowering her (especially since her entire legal team is virtually all men), forcing them to shoehorn the whole “voice” meme with the survivors.  Hare’s a good writer, but it still plays as clunky.

    Spall has the most potential as a perfect villain (again, echoing James Woods and his nod in GoM), but just isn’t given enough to do and vanishes for a big chunk of the film.  Wilkinson gives the most lived-in performance of the bunch.  There’s an intriguing theme here–the banality of evidence trumps the banality of evil revisionism, but for me, the film felt flat, despite its important subject and interesting backstory.  Very little surprise it hasn’t gotten any traction.

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