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Declaration of War

3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The French New Wave meets the modern medical establishment in this unconventional melodrama. In short order, a couple falls in love and has a child. Juliette (writer-director Valérie Donzelli) and Roméo (cowriter Jérémie Elkaïm, the baby's father) believe something is wrong with their 18-month-old son, but everyone insists that infants cry all the time. Their instincts tell them otherwise, so they find a pediatrician (Béatrice De Staël) who listens to their concerns. At first, she's skeptical, too, but Adam's equilibrium issues lead her to recommend a neurologist, who delivers the bad news: he has a brain tumor. Fortunately, it's operable, but the situation devolves further when they find out that he'll need years of chemotherapy, which can buy a few years, but may not save his life. With every improvement, they celebrate; with every setback, they mourn (cigarettes feature prominently). If money is in short supply and if they have to put their careers on hold, friends and family are always there when they need them (Brigitte Sy and Elina Löwensohn play Roméo's parents). In drawing from their real-life experience, Donzelli's second feature starts out on a light note until fate darkens the picture, though despair never hijacks the proceedings since characters break into song or dance whenever things get too intense. It's a risky premise for a film, but Donzelli and Elkaïm have an effortless charm that pulls you into their ordeal. Not to give too much away, but the ending is happier than their Shakespeare-inspired names might indicate. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Studio: Sundance
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006IW8D12
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,178 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Declaration of War" on IMDb

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jay B. Lane TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 8, 2012
Format: DVD
Q: What is the difference between a surgeon and God?
A: God doesn't think he's a surgeon.

A little medical humor courtesy of this year's Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film from France (English captions). It won Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Film at the 2011 Gijon Film Festival in Spain. This oddly intimate but affecting little piece is directed by Valerie Donzelli, who co-wrote the script with Jeremie Elkaim, the father of her two children and it's based on their own experience. They play a couple who meet, fall in love, and have a baby boy. Before he's a year old he is found to have a malignant brain tumor.

The Declaration of War in the title is the determination with which they confront the challenges of having a critically sick child: they keep themselves in good physical shape; they develop a plan to cope with friends and relatives; they present a united front to the medical world; they maintain a wry sense of humor; and they love their little boy without fail. As their world shrinks to the size of a children's hospital, we watch as they become familiar with the staff, the routine, the environment and the treatments. Occasionally they blow off steam by going dancing or riding on a motor scooter, but their everyday life is determined by their son's treatment schedule.

The sound track consists of some instrumentals, some songs sung by people on the screen, some rhythmic sounds that are the same beat as guys painting a wall with roller brushes, and others are just peculiar. Engaging but peculiar.... There are bits of humor scattered throughout, and given the topic matter, we clutch at them like straws for a drowning man.

The hospital staff is mostly sympathetic, but this personal crisis is just part of the job to them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 22, 2012
Format: DVD
Declaration of War is a love story, following two people named Romeo(Jérémie Elkaïm) and Juliette(Valerie Donzelli). Yet, this French film that was their entry in the Best Foreign Language award category, isn't the story of star crossed lovers fighting against a world hoping to keep them apart. It is a love story, but it's the love between two parents and their child, and their determination to form a united front against the terrible disease that threatens his life.

Don't walk in thinking this is some weeper you'll need a healthy dose of Kleenex to get through. Humor, a touch of whimsy, and a whole lot of imagination are the weapons in this fight, making for one of the best and unique movie experiences of the year. After a brief and fateful courtship that the two assume will lead to disaster based on their names, a whirlwind romance follows captured in joyous moments at the amusement park, chasing one another through city streets, sucking in life at its fullest. Their relationship is taken to the next level with the birth of their son, Adam. This beautiful boy becomes the center of their world, the reason for their existence, yet unlike other films the love between the two parents never falters. It merely changes and grows into something more.

Their world is flipped upside down as the ever watchful and worrisome Romeo begins to suspect something is wrong with their 18-month old boy, and soon their storybook romance becomes one of long hospital stays, grim faced doctors, and an uncertain future. To overcome it, and to keep their doting families from falling into disarray, Romeo and Juliette decide to form a united front against self pity and the destructiveness of doubt.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Harbour on February 10, 2012
Format: DVD
"Declaration of War" conveys both the joy of living and the long slog of serious illness. That the movie conveys both so well is a wonder. Especially in earlier parts of the film, the music and movement edge up to the joy of musical dance numbers without ever quite breaking into song and dance. It's quite effect shorthand for communicating life and happiness. The extra potency of near-musical vibrancy helps balance the equally well expressed strain of entering and enduring a prolonged medical battle. That the movie isn't 100% satisfying doesn't diminish it's many brave successes.
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