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DECLARATION OF WAR

SYNOPSIS:
Beautiful Juliette (Valerie Donzelli) and dashing Romeo (Jérémie Elkaïm) are two insouciant souls whose first encounter and rapid romance is quickly followed by the birth of a child. But their lives are transformed overnight when a visit to their pediatrician results in a shocking verdict: their infant son Adam has a brain tumour.
Juliette & Romeo accept the looming battle head on, and with the support of their families, friends and dedicated public healthcare workers (many playing themselves), end up revealing their strengths, weaknesses, fears and secrets to each other, as well as the world. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's a compelling true story told by the young parents who experienced it: their little boy is diagnosed with a nasty brain tumour and the future is suddenly bleak. But Valrie Donzelli does everything she can as a debuting feature filmmaker to avoid making her film bleak. She brings in eclectic and alerting music, including a couple of songs which she, as Juliette, and Jérémie Elkaïm as Romeo, sing to each other.

This is less effective than it could have been, partly because the songs are melodically unsuitable and second because she allows them to drag on to their completion, draining them of any dramatic power they might have had. But these are minor issues in the overall film, which relies heavily on a 'documented' approach: that is to say it combines narration to link story development points as well as the re-enactment in a dramatised form of how young Adam was diagnosed, treated and nursed through the crisis.

The underlying drama holds the film together even when self indulgence and the rawness of inexperience weakens the film.

Both leads are excellent, however, as are the marvellous supports who play doctors and nurses and family members. The script stumbles at the end when there is an inexplicable jump to the resolution, but we can figure it out.

With the above reservations, I would recommend the film - especially to anyone whose life experience is somehow relevant; it shows a deeply committed couple struggling to cope - and not always in a saintly manner.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

DECLARATION OF WAR (M)
(France, 2011)

La guerre est déclarée

CAST: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, César Desseix, Gabriel Elkaïm, Brigitte Sy, Michelle Moretti, Philippe Laudenbach, Beatrice de Sael

NARRATION: Pauline Gaillard, Philippe Barassat, Valentine Katzeflis

PRODUCER: Eduard Weil

DIRECTOR: Valérie Donzelli

SCRIPT: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sebastian Buchmann

EDITOR: Pauline Gaillard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gaelle Usandivaras

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 31, 2012







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