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Jakob the Liar

Jakob the Liar

Peter Kassovitz (1999)

12 Certificate


Our Score
For Robin Williams, more is less. The greater he lays on the schmaltz, the fewer tears we shed in response to his hammy manipulation. As Jakob, a fantasist living in a Jewish ghetto in war-torn Poland, he pulls out all the emotional stops - unlike Roberto Benigni in the similar Life Is Beautiful - but the result falls far short of tragic resonance. Latching on to an overheard suggestion that all is going badly on the German front, Jakob finds he has to keep feeding his eager compatriots morsels of hope. Such fine actors as Armin Mueller-Stahl and Alan Arkin are enmeshed in a web of optimistic deceit that soon becomes as unconvincing as Williams himself.


A shopkeeper in a Nazi-controlled Polish ghetto decides to boost the morale of his fellow Jews by claiming to have access to a hidden radio, passing on fake news of Allied victories. However, his efforts risk drawing attention to himself and the concentration camp escapee he is concealing. Comedy drama, starring Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban and Liev Schreiber.

Cast & Crew

Jakob Heym Robin Williams
Frankfurter Alan Arkin
Kowalsky Bob Balaban
Lina Hannah Taylor-Gordon
Avron Michael Jeter
Professor Kirschbaum Armin Mueller-Stahl
Mischa Liev Schreiber
Rosa Frankfurter Nina Siemaszko
Herschel Mathieu Kassovitz
Director Peter Kassovitz
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Other Information

Language: English Colour Theatrical distributor: Tristar Pictures Guidance: Contains violence. Available on: Available on video and DVD Released on: 5 Nov 1999

Comedy Drama

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