Monday, 2 January 2017


The knottiness of truth, justice and the British legal system laid bare in Mick Jackson's Denial - too bare, indeed, as such knottiness demands a knotty, intimate deconstruction, the kind of methodical examination exercised by Deborah Lipstadt's legal team. Jackson modulates the tone of David Hare's intricate screenplay with smart stoicism, balancing the necessary juxtaposition of passionate furore and dispassionate analysis with ease. Alas, Denial is all too easy, given that the director flounders when tasked with teasing out the philosophical interpretations essential to appreciating these historical facts. A little bluster here and there may contribute further exhibits for an audience of jurors to peruse, though it mostly appears more like a diversion from Jackson's inability to grapple with the complexities offered forth by Hare's script. The film is buoyed by its innate appeal as a courtroom drama, by its arresting true story, and by the general adequacy of its treatment, though that story persistently insists on a more probing approach, and a less pedestrian style. As in many such films, Denial is largely too preoccupied with providing a platform for its performances to achieve much else, and its cast largely delivers. There are varying degrees of over- and under-doing it throughout the ensemble, each to varying degrees of success, and I'll afford particular commendation to Tom Wilkinson, and to Timothy Spall as the loathsome David Irving.