Winner of the Golden Bear at Berlinale, the latest from Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher) features a dynamic lead performance from newcomer Tom Mercier, whose feral intensity practically bursts out of the frame. Mercier plays Yoav, a disaffected young Israeli who flees Tel Aviv for Paris to start a new life.
“Astonishing. A deadpan funny and frequently stunning ode to contemporary France that’s infused with New Wave verve.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Desperate to erase his origins, Yoav sees becoming French as his only hope for salvation. Step one is to replace his language. From now on, he will not utter a single word of Hebrew and his dictionary becomes his constant companion. His work at the Israeli embassy is a burden, but studying for his naturalization test also has its pitfalls. And the young French couple he befriends has some rather strange ideas about how to help him. Based on writer-director Nadav Lapid’s own experiences, Synonyms explores the challenges of putting down roots in a new place. Yoav’s attempts to find himself awaken past demons and open up an existential abyss in this tragicomic puzzle that wisely knows how to keep its secrets. (Dir. by Nadav Lapid, 2019, France/Israel/Germany, in English, 123 mins., Not Rated)