Winner of the Golden Bear at Berlinale, the latest from Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher) features a dynamic lead performance from newcomer Tom Mercier, whose feral intensity practically bursts out of the frame. Mercier plays Yoav, a disaffected young Israeli who flees Tel Aviv for Paris to start a new life. Desperate to erase his origins, Yoav sees becoming French as his only hope for salvation. Step one is to replace his language. From now on, he will not utter a single word of Hebrew and his dictionary becomes his constant companion. His work at the Israeli embassy is a burden, but studying for his naturalization test also has its pitfalls. And the young French couple he befriends has some rather strange ideas about how to help him. Based on writer-director Nadav Lapid’s own experiences, Synonyms explores the challenges of putting down roots in a new place. Yoav’s attempts to find himself awaken past demons and open up an existential abyss in this tragicomic puzzle that wisely knows how to keep its secrets.
A police officer in an anti-terrorism unit lives his life between his friends and enemies. The birth of his daughter and an encounter with Israel’s class war undermines his organized values system.
Nadav Lapid’s The Kindergarten Teacher is the story of a teacher who becomes at first enchanted, and then ultimately consumed by the poetic genius of her five-year-old student. As the titular protagonist, Nira, discovers that her young student, Yoav, has an otherworldly talent for language and poetry, she slowly and progressively becomes interested in cultivating the boy’s gift. But when fascination morphs into obsession, Nira pushes the boundaries of her relationship with the boy and his family in an attempt to protect his talent before he passes from boyhood to adolescence, and his purity is lost.
Following his critically acclaimed debut Policemen, Lapid demonstrates the aesthetic vision of a true auteur, combining a verite approach with thrilling a cinematic narrative that brings into sharp focus the dangers of both mediocrity and passion.