You have two options when it comes to survival: fight or flight. Clearly, flight is the easiest and the less stressful of the two choices. This is especially true for Yoav (Tom Mercier), who arrives in Paris with the hopes of escaping his past in Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms.
Landing late at night in Paris, Yoav immediately checks in to his new apartment with no furniture and a small backpack with his only possessions. His night’s sleep was cold to the point of freezing and immediately hops into the shower to warm up. While bathing, Yoav’s backpack and clothes are stolen. Now absolutely nude, he has nowhere to go, Yoav begins knocking on every door for help, but no one will help this crazed, naked man.
“…Yoav attempts to start a brand new life, while at the same time permanently shutting the door on the life he left behind…”
Hours later, one couple, Emile (Quentin Dolmaire) and Caroline (Louise Chevilotte), finds compassion and carries the lifeless, nude body of Yoav into their apartment. A friendship is immediately struck between the trio. This auspicious beginning to Yoav’s new life in Paris feels quite symbolic. The title Synonyms refers to Yoav’s extensive use of a Hebrew/French dictionary enabling him to find ways to express himself.
Over the course of the film, Yoav attempts to start a brand new life, while at the same time permanently shutting the door on the life he left behind, including his former life in Israel and his dysfunctional family. Starting life over from scratch is not easy. Yoav has to find a job, which can be difficult for an ex-pat from anywhere. He then must find new social circles to hang with. His close friendship with Emile and Caroline starts off great but becomes overly complicated over time.