by Tony Medley
Runtime 110 minutes.
OK for children.
performances by Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson are upstaged by an
Oscarģ-quality appearance by Timothy Spall as the hateful denier in this
film based on a 2000 defamation lawsuit in England by a Holocaust denier
against an author who called him to task.
Deborah Lipstadt (Weisz) wrote a book, Denying the Holocaust: The
Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, after which she was sued by a
British writer, David Irving (Spall), for libel. In the U.S., a plaintiff
in a libel suit has the burden of proof. In the U.K, itís exactly
opposite; the defendant must prove the truth of what she wrote. So
Lipstadt found herself in the fight of her life, which required her to
prove that the Holocaust actually occurred.
While the arrogant
Irving chooses to represent himself, Lipstadt and her publisher chose a
high-level British team headed by barrister Richard Rampton (Tom
Wilkinson). Actually, in Britain (I worked for a solicitorís office in
London for a while during my legal career) barristers are hired by
solicitors, not by the client. A client goes to a solicitor who hires
the barrister and the barrister actually works for the solicitor. The
solicitor in this case was Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott) who is prickly
and a cold fish.
What really bothers
Lipstadt is that Rampton intends to try the case without calling any of
the Holocaust survivors to testify, which annoys Lipstadt no end. The
resulting touchy relationship between Weisz and her seemingly
unsympathetic attorneys is very well done.
This is an
interesting story and itís made much better by Spallís sparkling