Denial

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Denial Movie Poster Image
Compelling film about truth deals with intense subject.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The truth is the best defense -- and in some cases, it's the most powerful defense. Themes include courage, integrity, and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Deborah knows who she is, knows she speaks the truth, and won't be bullied by anyone; she demonstrates courage and integrity. Though she's used to fighting for herself and her ideas, she also knows when to rely on others. Her barristers, Richard Rampton and Anthony Julius, work together and are principled and dogged in their pursuit of a defense that relies on the truth.  

Violence

The Holocaust looms over this modern-day drama. Though viewers don't see the horrors of that genocide, they hear how the Nazis tortured and killed Jews during World War II. Some historical photos are shown. Speeches by Deborah's nemesis, Daivd Irving, are vicious and violent in the way they summarily dismiss the existence of the Holocaust. Irving's supporters and detractors protest very loudly outside the courtroom. 

Sex
Language

Infrequent use of "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism

Visible products/labels include Sony.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking among adults -- in pubs, homes, and offices, pre- and post-courtroom appearances.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Denial is a powerful fact-based story about an American professor who's taken to court in England by a man she accused of being a Holocaust denier. The talky drama may go over the head of younger viewers -- and the subject matter is pretty intense (historical photos from WWII are shown, and there's much discussion of the Holocaust). But it's thought-provoking viewing for teens and adults, with themes including integrity, courage, and teamwork. Expect some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and a fair amount of drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14 and 15 year old Written byTammy C. October 11, 2016

Powerful history message!

This is a very accurate story of an Emory Professor who takes on a denier of the Holocaust. It is a very powerful true story of perseverance and pursuit of the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byvarun menon February 16, 2017

AMAZING MOVIE

this is an amazing movie but not exactly for people below 12

What's the story?

In DENIAL, Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) -- whose book about her real-life experiences provided the inspiration for the film -- does battle with a Holocaust-denying Goliath, David Irving (Timothy Spall), in the British courts. Irving sues her in England for supposedly maligning him with her accusations that he's a Holocaust denier. British courts function differently than American ones, and Lipstadt's barristers, led by Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) and Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott), prefer that the very vocal professor let them take the lead.

Is it any good?

This drama will leave you pondering the power of truth in battling what many may only want to label as evil: those who deny the Holocaust's existence. Using an understated approach, director Mick Jackson says a lot with silence and stares, confining the bluster to one source: Spall's David Irving, who's like an Internet troll come alive. In quieter movies like these, it's important to have actors who are both experienced and gifted, and Denial has them in spades. 

But even though the subject matter is riveting, the movie too often feels like more of an intellectual exercise than the deeply emotional experience it had the potential to be. While it admirably takes its time to lay out the lawsuit and the events leading up to it, it's lacking in details when it comes to depicting the in-court battle itself. Some of this can be chalked up to the fact that Lipstadt never takes the stand (though somehow Weisz still manages to make her presence significant). Courtroom dramas center on confrontations between the accuser and the accused; unfortunately, we don't quite get that here. Still, Denial is worth a watch, if only to remind us that we should never forget the horrors of World War II. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in Denial demonstrate integrity, courage, and teamwork. Why are those important character strengths?

  • How does this movie approach the subject of the Holocaust differently from other films? How is it similar? How does it depict the motivations of a Holocaust denier? 

  • What do "freedom of speech" and "libel" mean? How do they appear to differ in the United States and the United Kingdom? What are the major differences? How does this affect how Deborah approaches her defense? 

Movie details

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