I Won’t Deny It – I Loved It #filmreview #denial

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Another day another film. Denial this time. A BOTS (Based on true story) of the libel trial between Holocaust denier David Irving, a British ‘historian’ and Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt an American academic who called him out.

It’s a court room drama, a tried and tested formula where the outcome is well known so it’s the characters’ journeys that are the thing that holds the story together. That is a challenge for any movie, especially one where a number of the main players still live, and more so when there is precious little action beyond some harmless scuffling outside the Royal Courts of Justice and a visit to Auschwitz.

I was a lawyer (holds his hand up, admitting a grievous sin) so some of the action between client and lawyer retains a certain compelling interest. Even so, it isn’t a lawyer’s film and I would recommend this to anyone who likes a movie that makes you think. The best movies stay with me – not as in the blood splatte ones that give me nightmares or the egregiously bad ones that make me question  my sanity in going in the first place – but which have some theme, or conceit even, that rumbles around inside my head, asking questions, probing at my certainties with an unsettling stiletto.

The thing that sorts this out from what might be just another movie about a legal battle is it’s current resonance. We are told we live in a post truth era where the main news bodies can’t be trusted and social media and the made up news factories are where news is being distributed and consumed today. The POTUS tweets himself horse, even calling out the media for failing to report terrorist atrocities across Europe because it fails to meet their agenda of demonising (his words) his travel ban policy. So much for a free press.

There is a compelling piece of cinematography. Towards the end (spoiler – ish so skip to the next paragraph) where the judge queries whether  someone can be held to have distorted the truth if they hold a view, which they believe honestly, even if it is wrong. It encapsulates one of the criticisms of those attacking Irving: that the legal action in effect justifies a curtailment of the freedom of speech, the right to hold and voice opinions that are unwelcome and many find intolerable and, indeed, may be factually wrong.

The acting is good, Timothy Spall would have to work very hard not to be and Rachel Weisz perfectly fits the role of the confident American academic unwillingly but eventually gratefully brought to heel by expert lawyers. The most interesting part is that of lead solicitor Anthony Julius, famous for acting for Princess Diana in her divorce. He comes across as dry, hard bitten, lacking sympathy with any views not his own but brilliant, clever and tactically astute. How we root for him at the end is perhaps the cleverest piece of directing.

You might argue that this is more the subject of a documentary, maybe but it wouldn’t have such a wide audience and it is a message that needs to be heard, sometimes fiction does that better.

Go see it. I forgot my ice cream and, you know what? I didn’t miss it.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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24 Responses to I Won’t Deny It – I Loved It #filmreview #denial

  1. Ritu says:

    Sounds fascinating His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good, even sans ice cream…a great endorsement.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. merrildsmith says:

    My husband and I both enjoyed it. We saw it before the election here, and even then alternate facts were all over the place. Now it seems even more important that people be aware of such things–and you are right that more people are likely to see a fictional story than a documentary.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Better ones do have thoughts that stick.
    All comes down to intent they say in murder trials (“I didn’t mean to kill that woman. I was trying to kill that guy over there. So it doesn’t count” Yes, quote from actual local murder trial.)
    Words too quick to change their meanings buy those skilled at that, facts shaved and dressed until totally unrecognized, and too many who don’t track back to the actual source and think for themselves. Dangerous combination in any era.
    Good review.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review. Great cast

    Liked by 1 person

  6. noelleg44 says:

    I had never heard of this movie, Geoff, but will now look for it on Hulu or Netflix. The central premise is very compelling. Good review!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is another one that I was wondering about – do I want to have my angst level up-graded needlessly or would it be worth the upgrade (being subjected to willful pig-ignorance (apologies pigs)) watching someone stand up to it. I’ll give it a shot, especially if it might broaden my thinking/feeling/understanding of Irving, but I’ll probably watch via DVD. Appreciate this review Geoff, it’s the first one I’ve read that makes me want to watch the movie. Cards mailed yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jan says:

    You sold me! Sounds like my kind of flick.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If this isn’t an enticing movie review I cannot imagine another one. o_O

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Norah says:

    Sounds like a good view. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Forgot your ice cream? How on earth did you forget your ice cream?
    Clearly, I am still focused on the important elements of your review…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Charli Mills says:

    Suffering from Post Truth Trauma and POTUS Tweet Fatigue, I might need to see this movie and reset my brain.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Eileen says:

    Well done. Convinced me to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

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