Jakob the Liar (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Jakob the Liar1999

Jakob the Liar (1999)



Critic Consensus: Any real story is buried by awkward performances and contrived situations.

Jakob the Liar Photos

Movie Info

This remake of the 1975 German film Jakob der Lügner stars Robin Williams in a dramatic role as a man who uses his active imagination to bring a ray of hope where hope was all but unknown. Jakob Heym (Robin Williams) is the owner of a small café during the Nazi occupation of Poland; he has little money and is struggling to keep body and soul alive in the shadow of the Third Reich. One day, he overhears a radio broadcast, forbidden to Polish ears, that reports a major victory for Russian troops over the German army. Enthusiastic about this good news, Jakob begins spreading word of the Russian army's progress through the Polish ghetto. He notices that the story gives people hope and makes it easier for them to get through the day. So Jakob begins inventing stories and passing them along, creating fictional war reports that suggest that the occupation may soon be ending. However, when the occupation troops get wind of these stories, they become convinced that someone has communications equipment stashed away somewhere, and they're determined to find both the radio and its operator at all costs. Jakob the Liar was the first American feature for director Peter Kassovitz; the supporting cast includes Armin Mueller-Stahl, Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, and Liev Schreiber.

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Robin Williams
as Jakob Heym
Alan Arkin
as Frankfurter
Bob Balaban
as Kowalsky
Mark Margolis
as Fajngold
Gregg Bello
as Blumenthal
Eva Igo
as Lina's Mother
István Bálint
as Lina's Father
Adam Rajhona
as The Whistler
Antal Leisen
as Peg-leg
Jan Becker
as Young German
Grazyna Barszczewska
as Mrs. Frankfurter
Judit Sagi
as Mrs. Avron
Ilona Psota
as Grandmother
Agi Margitai
as Miss Esther
Ivan Darvas
as Hardtloff
Miroslaw Zbrojewicz
as SS Officer 1
Jozef Mika
as Soldier
Gyorgy Szkladanyi
as SS Officer 2
Zofia Saretok
as Neighbor
Michael Mehlmann
as Escaping Man
Mirtill Micheller
as Lady Singer
Orsolya Pflum
as Lady Singer
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News & Interviews for Jakob the Liar

Critic Reviews for Jakob the Liar

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (24)

Jakob the Liar is a trial of cliche, strained optimism, and dire quasi-comedy.

January 1, 2000

Jakob the Liar is so forced that only the interest of a star of Williams' magnitude could have gotten it made.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

It's jolting that such a potentially life-affirming movie could be so lifeless.

January 1, 2000

Jakob the Liar plays like a Robin Williams concentration-camp comedy that was intended to cash in on the success of Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful.

January 1, 2000

Jakob the Liar aspires to be a poignant parable about the power of hope but instead uses one of humanity's greatest tragedies for trite melodrama.

January 1, 2000

The film leans from the comedic to the near-mawkish.

January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Jakob the Liar

I admire Robin Williams as an actor but I have no time for "holocaust" movies. To me they are nothing more than awards bait. I don't believe a single one has ever truly portrayed what actually went on, and a diet version of such events is criminal. This film tries to show the harshness but the tone is too light and nothing happens that you don't expect.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer


I loved this movie. Robin Williams and Liev Schreiber were outstanding. This movie is set during WW2 in Warsaw where Nazis have taken control of a community of Jews. Jakob is one of the jews and somehow the word gets out that he owns a radio which according to Nazis is not allowed. Jakob tells his fellow citizens news that he claims that he has heard on the radio and this keeps the hopes up in the community, hopes that the war will soon have an end. This truly is a touching story and it is so well played by these talented actors.

Naughtia Nahazhina
Naughtia Nahazhina

Super Reviewer

I liked it. It was definately a different spin on the typical Holocaust movie. I liked the ending as well.

Sarah Prisbylla
Sarah Prisbylla

Super Reviewer

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