Joshua Rich
October 29, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Jacob the Liar

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
genre
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it an A-

This subtle, moving drama — about a former restaurateur (Brodsky) who brings hope to his Nazi-occupied Polish ghetto by telling fabricated news stories — shares its title and plot with Robin Williams’ latest, yes. But the 1974 East German version’s minimal production design and painfully realistic ending help create a tale so sincere, it could reduce a clown like Williams, or even Roberto Benigni, to tears. Reel Goodies (1:00) Brodsky pulls off the movie’s funniest and most touching scene, in which he impersonates Winston Churchill (in German!). The Last Detail Benigni’s 1998 Oscar darling Life Is Beautiful wasn’t such a Holocaust trailblazer after all: Jacob got a Best Foreign Language Film nomination 22 years earlier. A-

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