A story about identity at its core, Nadav Lapid's Synonyms is incisive in moments, but holistically it feels rather slight, a bit silly, and at its worst utterly pretentious in its brazen aesthetic designs which amount to very little outside of instilling emotional detachment in the viewer from the humanistic component of its story. A sterile, meticulous directorial style unfortunately impairs the overall experience far more than it invokes the psyche of its main protagonist. The story of a young man who emigrates to France from Israel to flee his nationality, one which he has grown to despise, Synonyms exhibits the violence of pure notions of assimilation through this character who is looking for rebirth through a change in citizenship. The entanglements of identity are not easily obfuscated, even when they themselves are complete abstractions, such as the case with nationality, and through this juvenile main protagonist, Lapid exhibits the illogical nature of such types of attachments, regardless of the complementary or pejorative connotations of perception. The moral attachment this character experiences for the foreign Paris over his native Israel is emotionally understandable but intellectually illogical, as Lapid constructs this character with explicit directorial flair in which he feels more like an inanimate, malleable instrument, one which is well performed by Tom Mercier, but one that is not particularly well crafted in its characterization. This effect makes this human story feel inorganic in stretches, striping the film of its emotional agency and relying too much on its thematic commentary in a work that needs both to truly succeed on a fundamental level. Nadav Lapid's Synonyms is the type of film I probably would have been enamored with a decade ago, and while I have extremely fond memories of his previous films, my response to his style this time around makes me somewhat wary of re-watching his prior work.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.