Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)
Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber
Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.
Tagline – He will make you believe.
Runtime: 2 Hours
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough
Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.
As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.
Thoughts on Jakob the Liar
Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.
Performances – Robin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.
Story – The story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.
War – The film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.
Settings – The settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.
Final Thoughts – This is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.
Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.