Denial

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott
Directed By: Mick Jackson

Plot: When a professor (Weisz) finds herself in the middle of a libel suit from a holocaust denier (Spall), she finds herself having to prove that he’s wrong, and that she’s right. We all know the holocaust happened, but can you prove it?

What Works: Denial is a perfectly fine movie. It’s not a great one, and that’s why it was left on the bench at the Oscars. Yes, Weisz is good here, but she never really gets a showy scene. She’s been better in other roles, and there were definitely better performances this year. Wilkinson does good work too, as he always does. But, again, he’s had better roles, and there’s not much here to see. The only person who is really firing on any cylinder is Spall, who has been working his ass off for years as a character actor, with no Oscar nominations. He was in the conversation for Mr Turner, and didn’t get recognized. I feel like he’s someone who should be recognized at some point. I didn’t have any major problems with Denial. I just never really thought Spall was going to win. He was never set up to win. In a true-life case like this, where we already know the results, you have to at least set up the tension (even if you have to fabricate it to some extent). Otherwise, why bother telling the story? So while this film is well made, and well acted, that’s about all I can say.

What Doesn’t Work: What this film lacks most is gravitas. Like I said before, the stakes never felt real. I never felt like Spall was going to win the case. I didn’t even know how the case ended, historically speaking. The film just never really gave Spall that third base hit, where he almost looked like he could take it home. He gets a first base hit, but that’s not good enough.

Final Word: A fine dramatization of a real court case, but I have to wonder, why did we bother? If this is the direction we’re taking with the story, did we ever need an adaptation of this story?

Final Grade: B

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