Nadav Lapid won the Golden Bear at Berlinale with his third feature film Synonymes, a compelling film about Yoav, an Israeli man who settles in Paris wanting to wipe out his identity like protagonists in existentialist works by Pirandello and Antonioni.
Shot on location with a realistic approach the film follows a dream logic with dimensions of mythology (in the beginning Yoav is naked like Adam), anarchism and surrealism (Yoav rejects his military past yet works at the Israeli embassy). In contrast to Yoav’s Israel-negation his compatriot Yaron advertises his nationalism and wallows in Jewish martyrdom and paranoia. In another contrast Yoav’s French friends Émile and Caroline are almost parodic dream incarnations of Parisian taste, culture, and savoir-vivre. Caroline even agrees to a green card marriage with Yoav. A satirical highlight is the cultural assimilation class. Having banged his head against the wall Yoav has finally to admit that there is no escape from identity.
Tom Mercier in his debut role displays formidable presence and range, equally at ease clothed and naked. His is a revelation comparable with Marlon Brando.