The film has Yoav (a brilliant Tom Mercier) turn up in Paris in the hope that France will save him from what he sees as the madness of his country. He refuses to speak Hebrew, and a dictionary becomes his most valuable resource as he walks the streets muttering in French. Things do not begin well for him. Almost immediately all his belongings are stolen, and he is alone, naked and freezing in an apartment. Temporary salvation comes in the form of his neighbours, writer Emile (Quentin Dolmaire) and musician Caroline (Louise Chevillotte), who give him clothes, some cash, and become his first friends in Paris, as he embarks on a challenging new life. Mercier's unforgettable performance defies conventional description. Spending much of the film completely naked, he imbues Yoav with a forceful anger and unpredictability. Lapid, whose previous films, Policeman and The Kindergarten Teacher, were critical looks at militarism and commercialism, here takes a scabrous view of identity and nationhood. It's not always easy to watch, but impossible to look away.
Official Competition director biography: Nadav Lapid was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1975, and studied philosophy. After military service, he moved to Paris, before returning to Israel to study at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem. His debut feature film Policeman (SFF 2012) won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno in 2011. The Kindergarten Teacher played Cannes Critics' Week in 2014. Synonyms won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale earlier this year.