Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jakob the Liar (1999)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 8 out of 10
Director: Peter Kassovitz
Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor-Gordon, Alan Arkin
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Drama, War, Comedy
Runtime: 120 minutes

During the Nazi occupation in Poland, Jewish restaurant owner Jakob Heym (Williams), is caught out after dark by one of the German soldiers, and even though he is not violating curfew, is sent to the headquarters just outside the ghetto to receive his punishment.  While there, he overhears a message on the radio that the Russian troops are nearby, meaning that the Jews in Poland could be liberated from their current state of oppression.  On his way home, he is found by 10 year old Lina (Taylor-Gordon), who managed to escape from the train that was transporting her parents to the concentration camps.  He takes her home and hides her in his attic so the Nazis don't find out about her.  Things start to get complicated though.  After Jakob tells his friend Kowalsky (Bob Balaban) the barber about the Russians (to prevent him from killing himself), and later his friend Mischa (Liev Schreiber) (to momentarily distract him), news starts to spread around the Ghetto that Jakob has an illegal radio.  And to keep moral up, Jakob lies, creating news for his friends and neighbors.

This was a very, very good film.  Robin Williams is amazing as Jakob, bringing so much life to the character.  I like how multi-layered he is.  Jakob is not strictly a good man or a bad man, but he has all sorts of conflicts within himself that show through very strongly.  We are painted the picture of what it must have been like for a man living in the ghetto, having lost his wife, saddled with an unexpected child, and now, trying to keep the people happy without the Nazis catching word of his "radio" which would lead to his imprisonment and death.  There is just the right amount of fear and duty in the character; even though he is afraid of the Nazis, he's willing to help his friends and neighbors stay positive through his lies.

Its hard to make a WWII drama that has lighter, comedic bits, because of the heavy subject matter.  However, Jakob the Liar manages to bring some humor to its presentation, especially in the interactions of Jakob and Lina, and Mischa, the former boxer he once managed.

Despite the humorous aspects, this movie can also be very sad.  The ending in particular left me with mixed feelings, but overall, I enjoyed the film.  If you have an interest in war drama or WWII in general, then this is a film you would probably like. 

1 comment:

  1. Why did I miss this movie... it looks great. It has been Netflixed. Thanks CS!


Hello, fellow movie buff! Thanks for stopping by :) I personally read every comment, and respond to most, so don't be shy about sharing your thoughts ;) Your feedback matters!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...