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Thursday, September 23, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 23


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Jakob the Liar tells smart, mesmerizing story of optimism


Jakob the Liar

Starring: Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Liev Shreiber
Running Time: 114 minutes
Rating: PG-13

Grade: B-


By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff 

Jakob the Liar, the new movie starring Robin Williams as a Jewish widower living in the ghetto during World War II, comes off as an affectionate tale, yet the overall point of the film will probably be missed by those who view it.

While awaiting punishment for being out past curfew, Williams (Patch Adams) who portrays Jakob Heym, a café owner, accidentally overhears news on the radio of Russian forces liberating death camps.

Heym then tells a few of his close friends and the news spreads. Eventually everyone thinks he owns a radio, an offense punishable by death in the Nazi-occupied Poland.

But Heym gets carried away and begins telling fictitious news about Allied advances against the Nazis, keeping humor and hope alive for the people who believe in him.

Jakob the Liar is an astonishing tale. It's a story of hope and despair, and the circle of friends who get through the tough times with Heym's continuously uplifting news.


Egon Endreney/Columbia Pictures


Robin Williams plays Jakob Heym (right), who gives hope to people in concentration camps by delivering positive, fictitious news to lift their spirits.

Williams is sufficient in this role, but it is not his best. His acting talents hardly ever wane, but just as in Patch Adams, in which his role was misunderstood by many, his character in Jakob the Liar will be overanalyzed and underappreciated.

His supporting cast rides on the verge of breakthrough performances, whether they are veterans or not. The cast includes Alan Arkin, Mark Margolis, Liev Schreiber, Michael Jeter, Bob Balaban and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

The film is directed by Peter Kassovitz, who has done two films in France and written two French novels.

With the release of last year's phenomenal film Life is Beautiful from Roberto Benigni, Jakob the Liar will fall under the shadow of Benigni's masterpiece. But, it still deserves attention and respect for the history and hope that it portrays.
 

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