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The M.O.W.'s Movie Reviews (333)

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Jakob the Liar (1999) 
Good story of hope
3/4 stars

"Jakob" (Robin Williams) is a Jew living in a Nazi-occupied Polish ghetto where the residents have lost all hope. One night, he is ordered to report to the officer in charge after being caught outside, allegedly after curfew. While he was in the office, waiting to be repremanded, he overhears a radio report about the advancing Russian troops.

When he returns to the neighborhood, he informs his friends what he had heard. However, as the news spread, his story transformed into something else. People began to believe he had a radio hidden in his home as his story began traveling through the grapevine.

This is simply a story of hope for those oppressed such as the Jews during the Nazi occupation so many decades ago. And it is done very well.

Let me say that this movie is not a happy story. Even the ending is shadowed by sadness, though it does have a touch of happiness.

Williams is very good in this film. He made his character compassionate to those in his neighborhood. As he told the stories, which were just stories to keep the Jews hopes up, you began to believe them just as much as those forced into the same situation as he was in the story. He was very believeable as he told his fictional news.

In fact, there were many good performances from the rest of the cast. You could actually feel the emotion from the entire cast. It was one of the most believeable performances from an entire cast that I've seen in a long time.

One thing you will notice is the lack of light, and color. You get lots of gray, black and white in clothing, as well as the walls (interior and exterior). This helps set the mood perfectly if you ask me. The only time I can recall any color was a shot of the Nazi flag.

There is also a lack of happy music in the film. There is one scene between Williams and the young girl (Hannah Taylor Gordon) that is short, but it is a happy scene with fun music.

Wardrobes are very accurate in this film. The Jews clothing look worn, and very dirty. They look as if they didn't wash their clothing in some time. The Nazi uniforms are also quite accurate in their appearance.

The violence is fairly mild in this film. There is a little blood, far less than you would expect. The Nazi soldiers use machine guns against the Jews, but there is little to no blood splatter as they are apparently struck.

There is also little to no action. Many of the scenes drag on, but many drag at an appropriate pace that works well.

To parents, I would suggest that you avoid this one if you have young children. If you have kids who are able to understand the plot, then watch it with them.


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