Jakob the Liar

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Peter Kassovitz
Writers:Peter Kassovitz and Didier Decoin
Columbia Pictures; 114 minutes; PG-13
Cast:Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, Michael Jeter

Jakob the Liar shares the same basic plot as Life Is Beautiful, but it's nowhere near as riveting. Robin Williams plays Jakob, a Polish Jew who overhears news of a Russian victory while undergoing interrogation by Nazi police. Fearing being labeled an SS conspirator, Jakob claims he heard of the battle on a hidden radio. The news sparks hope within the Warsaw ghetto, forcing Jakob to continue broadcasting his benevolent lies.

Williams does admirably well in the role, resisting the feel-good easiness of Patch Adams. His life consists of hiding a little girl in his attic (yes, she looks kinda like Anne Frank) and hanging out with various neighborhood buddies (Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Michael Jeter). The biggest problem with Jakob the Liar may be the ending, which softens the sober comedy that preceded it with an conclusion contrary to the grim outcome of the Holocaust.

Sources +
See also: