Jakob the Liar | Chicago Reader

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In a Jewish ghetto in Poland in 1944, Jakob (Robin Williams) inadvertently overhears a forbidden radio broadcast describing a Russian advance, then embellishes the news, inspiring other residents to imagine a future besides suffering and death. There's little fault to find in the construction of this wry, uncynical drama about the value of hope, but the obvious comparison to the controversial Life Is Beautiful—a more provocative fiction, if only because it's even less realist—makes this seem pale. Director Peter Kassovitz wrote the screenplay with Didier Decoin, based on a novel by holocaust survivor Jurek Becker. PG-13, 114 min.

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