Rated 2.0

How flatulently didactic is Mick Jackson’s courtroom drama-cum-biopic Denial? The opening scene features the protagonist literally teaching a class on the theme of the film. Denial covers the 1999 trial in which writer and historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) defended the veracity of the Holocaust in court after egomaniacal denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) sued her for libel. Yes, it’s yet another proudly bland quasi-indie drama piously intent on teaching you a lesson that you should already know. Spall makes for a mesmerizing human monster as Irving, equal parts Sean Hannity and Nosferatu, but his cartoon villainy only underlines the complete lack of complexity on hand in Denial. We’re on Lipstadt’s team no matter what, because the only alternative is an anti-Semitic scumbag with awful teeth. Meanwhile, the audience gets abandoned without any nourishment but moldy courtroom drama trappings and a snuggly shared sensation of righteous superiority over an obvious evil. D.B.