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  • Synonyms ★★★★★


Synonyms ★★★★★


While this wasn’t a vintage year for the Berlinale, 2019’s Golden Bear winner offered cause for excitement. Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms tells the story of Yoav (Tom Mercier), a charismatic young Israeli man seething with contempt for his homeland, who lands in Paris desperate to embrace French culture. Dashingly handsome and intellectually curious, he proves irresistible to affluent young couple Emile (Quentin Dolmaire) and Caroline (Louise Chevillotte), who take him under their wing after they find him squatting in their building. But while Yoav benefits financially from the pair’s interest, aspiring writer Emile’s eagerness to appropriate his new friend’s stories seems somewhat predatory. An atmosphere of unpredictability is established in a bravura opening sequence, which sees Yaov suffer a series of unlikely mishaps. And Lapid frequently seizes the opportunity to experiment with form – at times Synonyms feels like a feverish stream of consciousness, propelled by Mercier’s strikingly physical central performance. But these avantgarde flourishes never come at the expense of narrative cohesion, and the film triumphs both as an intimate account of an artist’s conflicted relationship with Israel, and as a broadly relatable tale of modern immigration and urban alienation. 

We spoke to Nadav Lapid about his blistering autobiographical drama ahead of Synonyms’ release.

Synonyms | Directed by Nadav Lapid (France, Germany, Israel 2019) with Tom Mercier, Quentin Dolmaire. Starts Sep 5 .

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