A master of movement, Nadav Lapid incorporates new styles in his new film Synonyms. At times this feels like a music video, in others like rant videos. And since we’re in France, that country’s new wave bleeds into this movie’s style. Lapid incorporates those distinctive styles to make a film that is its own strange animal. It helps that its protagonist, Yoav (Tom Mercier) is both strange and watchable. He disavows Israel and decides only speak in French instead of his native Hebrew.
Yoav’s assimilation process also involves befriending artists Emile (Quentin Dolmaire) and Caroline (Louise Chevillotte). He specifically decides to give Emile, a writer, his life story from back home. But that doesn’t stop him from articulating his own experiences with his new language. He does his best to figure out and listen to other characters. As he does this, Lapid shows off some visual dynamism, showing a fragmented world. Conversations happen in front of screens, every response seeming like an act of defiance.
There are, of course, moments here that exist only for absurdity’s sake. Political in nature, some of the scenes here rely on Yoav’s occasionally erratic behavior. Some of the ideologies in those scenes might alienate audiences who disagree with the film. Nonetheless, Lapid’s best asset here is Mercier, a beautiful young man who sometimes looks exhausted. He does take advantage of Mercier’s body and comments on masculinity’s vulnerable commodification. Mercier also honestly expresses the burden of carrying a new national identity, leaving Israel behind.
You can find information, tickets, and showtimes for Synonyms at https://www.tiff.net/events/synonyms.
- Rated: 14A
- Genre: Drama
- Release Date: 9/5/2019
- Directed by: Nadav Lapid
- Starring: Louise Chevillotte, Quentin Dolmaire, Tom Mercier
- Produced by: Saïd Ben Saïd
- Written by: Haim Lapid, Nadav Lapid
- Studio: ARTE France Cinéma, SBS Productions
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