An American professor working in London, Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) finds herself on trial when she's accused of libel by a Holocaust denier, David Irving (Timothy Spall). In England, the burden of proof in a libel case is on the accused, so it becomes paramount that Lipdstadt and her legal team can prove that the Holocaust actually happened. While the prosecution is most concerned with proving Lipstadt not guilty, the stories of those who suffered during World War II becomes of paramount importance to Lipstadt.
Once Lipstadt is accused, she enlists the aid of British solicitor Anthony Julius (Sherlock's Andrew Scott), who is most concerned with silencing Irving, but has little regard for the feelings of remaining Holocaust survivors. A step closer to Lipstadt's thnking, libel lawyer Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) visits Auschwitz with Lipstadt but still advises her on winning her case versus taking a stand for Holocaust survivors worldwide. In fact, all of Lipstadt's advisors push for Lipstadt and all survivors to stay out of the actual trial, denying their voice.
The film is beautifully acted, wonderfully nuanced, with courtroom discussions interspersed with the life situations around Lipstadt. It's a personal way in which this much bigger picture is framed, allowing us an intimate look at a case which proves to be divisive, even after its outcome. And still, it asks us bigger questions about ourselves - and our faith.
Who determines what you believe is true? Can someone pick apart your life, or your understanding of the Bible, and explain it away? Do you have an understanding of what value Scripture is to your life and the work of God, or is it flimsy, propped up by columns which can be kicked out of the way? Does it matter if someone believes the opposite of what you believe, and does that make it true?
Denial is a slow burning, close up film that forces us to see Lipstadt and Irving on the opposite sides of an event - which we would hardly consider fictional. But Spall's portrayal, and the burden of proof, show us how tenuous society views truth. Sometimes, we let others speak lies or half-truths into our ears, and we hear them enough that we believe them. In Denial, we hear the actual details of the trial play out, but as we unpack it for ourselves, hopefully it will draw us closer to God's truth and what it means to truly believe.
Denial is PG-13, with subject matter that will be troublesome for some viewers and occasional profanity.