Still of Jérémie Elkaïm and Valérie Donzelli in Declaration of War
Declaration of War
Director/Screenwriter: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm
Sundance Film Festival
Romeo and Juliette meet at a party and quickly fall in love. In no time, they move in together and find themselves pregnant. Early on, they fear that something is wrong with their son Adam—he cries incessantly, he keeps vomiting up his milk and doesn’t seem to be learning things as fast as his peers. A series of tests confirm the young parent’s fears: their son has a brain tumor. Although the Romeo & Juliet reference is tacky, the rest of this Donzelli’s film is beautiful and heart wrenching. The soundtrack is eclectic and does an excellent job expressing emotions of the characters that might feel inauthentic if they were conveyed with dialogue. Although Declaration of War is tragic, this film doesn’t follow the standard medical drama script. We see Romeo and Juliette struggle through a myriad of emotions—joy, fear, exhaustion, anger, confusion and others—as they trudge through the many stages of their son’s illness. Declaration of War is a moving story about one family's attempt to stay sane in the midst of a medical crisis.