With his third feature and first film set in France, Israeli writer-director Nadav Lapid provides an incendiary reminder that cinema is most powerful when it raises questions rather than provides answers, when every shot seems born of the desire to try out a new idea rather than bow to narrative convention, and when every scene feels as inevitable as it is surprising. With Synonyms, Lapid turned to his own experience as a young exile in France twenty years ago to tell the story of Yoav, a young Israeli who arrives in Paris knowing no one and barely speaking French but committed to forgetting his homeland and becoming a Frenchman. On his first night in Paris, Yoav is robbed of everything he owns and throws himself on the mercy of a bourgeois couple who will become his guides in the French approach to art, friendship, and sex. But the shadow of Yoav’s troubled native land is never far away. Subversively funny, brilliantly executed, constantly astonishing, and tragic in its political implications, Synonyms won a richly deserved Golden Bear at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival, confirming Nadav Lapid’s reputation as one of the most promising filmmakers to emerge in the last decade.
French and Hebrew
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