A critics' favorite at the Cannes Film Festival, Declaration of War comes stateside. Written and directed by Jérémie Elkaïm and Valérie Donzelli, the couple also doubles as the stars of the film. Jérémie Elkaïm plays Romeo and Valérie Donzelli plays Juliette, two young and adventurous people without a care in the world. They fall in love at first sight, move in together and have a baby. Their relationship serves as the pace and pulse of the movie, and both Elkaïm and Donzelli immediately find the right tone and never fall out afterward.
Starting off typically, Declaration of War takes a unique turn when the picture perfect couple discovers their newborn child, Adam, is very ill. The young parents try hard to persuade themselves that everything is okay, but with the passing of time, they cannot delude themselves any longer. The couple declares war on his illness and will do anything to protect young Adam and ensure his survival.
Donzelli infuses the story with an unexpected host of cinematic techniques. There are great music and heartbreaking performances that create a strong emotional film about a modern day couple who show even themselves the inordinate strength to fight not only for the life of their child but for each other and their own sanity.
The film draws its rawness and realism from the pair’s real life experience (Donzell and Elkaïm’s own son fell ill). Their onscreen characters are enjoyable and interesting, drawing you in from their first kiss. Declaration of War will make some viewers’ eyes water and dazzle you with its exuberance and filmmaking techniques. Donzelli not only gives her heart and emotion into this amazingly torturing yet redeeming story; She also proves to be a visionary with innovative and creative filmmaking, making this a beautiful, modern piece of artwork.