Is what we watched last night and I have mixed feelings about it. First class acting from Timothy Spall and Tom Wilkinson, yet whiny and emotional irritation from Rachael Weiss and a strangely underused Andrew Scott.
When you learn the film is based on the acclaimed book "History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier," it centres on Weiss/Lipstadt being sued by Spall/Irving for libel after she accuses him of being a holocaust denier in her book*.
Right from the off it irritated as she point blank refuses to enter into debate with anyone who states the Holocaust never existed (even if it is a vile and inaccurate statement) so when she is confronted by Spall in one of her own lectures and challenges her, she comes off as being on the back foot.
It's not just Weiss who spoiled the film for me by portraying her character as a whingy, irrational, cry baby, it was also the lack of scenes of Spall defending his despicable racist, bigoted beliefs in court against the quite brilliant Wilkinson.
Nor could I understand how Lipstadt's legal team could not present a case against a layman/self educated historian, with no legal education or experience in court. I won't say too much more to avoid spoiling the film, but Irving's smug counter arguments are what legends are made of in the playground.
Plus the ending is a massive anti-climax.
Yet I enjoyed the film despite its subject (we have been to Auschwitz and Birkenau it is hauntingly chilling) and suggest you take a look too. In the meantime, an interesting article (with spoilers) at TG.
*In the English legal system in Defamation, the burden of proof is on the accused, therefore it was up to defendant to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. In the States it's the other way around.