1945, Leningrad. WWII has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.
In a popular suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Souleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another.
Yoav, a young Israeli man, has a one-way ticket to Paris believing France to be his salvation from what he sees as the madness of his country. Things don't get off to a great start as he discovers his living arrangement is unfit for living, yet his grandiose expectations leave no room for a failure to adapt. Wholehearted in his resolution to erase his Jewish-Israeli origins, he refuses to speak Hebrew and obsessively studies his constant companion, a French dictionary. He develops a particularly strong bond with his privileged neighbor who symbolizes - to Yoav - the French promise of fraternité. Nothing can extinguish Yoav's determination to be thoroughly French. Based on the real-life experiences of writer-director Nadav Lapid, SYNONYMS explores the conflicted realm of fervent Nationalism and the challenges of putting down roots in a foreign land.Written by
Let me get one thing out of the way immediately. Tom Mercier is a great actor, and the performance in this film will be hard to follow. I had a sort of James Dean in ' East of Eden ' feeling, and those golden days are long since gone. The worry is how many people will see this film and the blurb on this site about front and rear nudity and gay interest is both not necessary and borders on the absurd. Yes, like every other male he has a penis and yes we see it. A natural part of the body which he is not afraid to show, and as for the gay interest gay men can see many male parts easily on the internet and will not have to come to this film to ' indulge ' themselves. When will hetero males and some women get over the fact that the penis is not a weapon that is going to set off World War 3 ? This is necessary to write here because so much attention on this veers away from the sheer beauty of the film as film, and undercuts the quality of all performances in it. And Paris is equally at her best thanks to the direction, and for a glimpse of a floodlit Notre Dame at night before the fire that nearly destroyed it anyone who loves Paris must see it. As for the story every other review seems to either dislike or like it in more or less equal measure. Israel is even more of a sore subject for viewers than male homosexuality. The film is complex and sometimes perplexing, and as a few people have noticed it deals with one damaged young man and what his experiences in Israel have done to him. I do not want to spoil the ending which hits like a hammer blow, and in these final moments you see all the pain of men isolated in their pain, and we as viewers can only stare helplessly, and if we have hearts that ache for humanity can only cry out, stop this torture on the male bred for war. I hope Tom Mercier knows how emblematic he is of our times; again much like James Dean in his first major role. A final word again for cinema that comes out of France. ' Synonymes ' adds to the country's explosion of talent and long may it continue.
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