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Jérémie Elkaïm, Valérie Donzelli, César Desseix, Gabriel Elkaïm, Brigitte Sy ... see more see more... , Elina Löwensohn , Michèle Moretti , Philippe Laudenbach , Bastien Bouillon , Béatrice De Staël , Anne Le Ny , Frederic Pierrot , Elisabeth Dion , Laure Marsac , Emmanuel Salinger , Philippe Barassat , Pauline Gaillard , Michelle Moretti

The opening night film at this year's Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival, this exuberant and deeply moving film follows a new couple, Romeo (Jeremie Elkaim) and Juliette (Valerie Donzelli), who ... read more read more...must face the ultimate test when they discover their new born child is very ill. Gathering their friends and family together, they confront the ordeal together as a form of warfare. Donzelli infuses the story with unexpected verve using a host of cinematic techniques, music and heartbreaking performances that results in a film about a contemporary couple who surprises even themselves with their ability to fight not only for the life of their child, but for each other. -- (C) IFC

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71% liked it

1,596 ratings


86% liked it

42 critics

Unrated, 1 hr. 40 min.

Directed by: Valérie Donzelli

Release Date: January 27, 2012

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DVD Release Date: June 5, 2012

Stats: 90 reviews


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Flixster Reviews (90)

  • June 13, 2012
    A ridiculous and irritating film full of clichés, about an annoyingly optimistic couple out of a fairy tale facing a hard situation. Not only the narration is expository and unnecessary but everything else is also trivial and unsubtle, made by an inexpert director who never seems... read more sure of what she wants to say.
  • June 3, 2012
    'Declaration of War'. Two charming leads, especially Valerie Donzelli, and a beautiful ending. Could have left 10-15 min in the editing room though.

    I'm tempted to up my rating a little with the revelation that it's biographical, and Donzelli wrote, directed and starred in the t... read morehing, with it being based on her experiences, but I shall not. In a way, I'm glad I didn't know this before watching it.
  • June 2, 2013
    In "Declaration of War," Romeo(Jeremie Elkaim) and Juliette(Valerie Donzelli, who also directed) meet sort of cute across a room full of people, before a slap in the face brings them back to reality. They wonder with their names if a cruel fate awaits them, not realizing they ar... read moree in a flashback from a time when their son will be undergoing an MRI. The relationship actually starts well enough, at least until their son Adam cannot stop crying. Relax, says Dr. Prat(Beatrice De Stael), he is just eating too much. And then another set of symptoms presents itself that are not so easily explained away...

    "Declaration of War" is a deeply affecting movie about how a couple's love is severely tested by their son's illness and in general reflecting the worst fears of parents everywhere.(A little late with the warning about internet searches though.) In truth, they are never alone, with a full support system of friends and family behind them. And as much as I usually hate children, I was feeling for the little fellow.

    So, while the movie is based on Donzelli and Elkaim's real life experiences, making an excellent movie like this out of them is nowhere near as easy as it might seem. Give full credit to Donzelli as she keeps things moving throughout by pulling out all the stops like alternating narrators and even a musical number that accentuates the melancholy mood.
  • June 13, 2012
    Jeremie Elkaim and Valerie Donzelli had already achieved an incredible accomplishment even before the film began: Almost entirely on their own, they both dually directed, wrote, acted in, wrote the music for, and even provided make-up work for this film. A modern "hipster" versio... read moren of the traditional "Child with terminal illness; whole family helps" weeper drama, Declaration of War is almost entirely the product of these two auteur's efforts. While as said before, the film is already quite an accomplishment, it could be considered to be an even greater success because of the quality of their creation. It's an effective French drama replete excellent performances from its cast, beautiful cinematography (the final scene on a beach is particularly memorable), and both a cool alternative soundtrack and Amelie styled narration which successfully brings the film out of the occasional draggy patch. This is, for the most part, just an overall excellent movie.

    Grade: B+

Critic Reviews

Ann Hornaday
March 23, 2012
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

True to its title, "Declaration of War" is a visceral, forthright visit to the front lines of battle, where superhuman courage is called for as life-or-death skirmishes turn into a long slog of survival. Full Review

Joe Williams
March 9, 2012
Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The tonal shifts, the "Amelie"-style voiceover and the punk-retro soundtrack may jar some viewers who expect uninterrupted violins, but "Declaration of War" is alternative therapy that really works. Full Review

Colin Covert
February 17, 2012
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

The subject matter is as serious as can be, yet the style is vibrant, energetic and engaging -- often tense, but without a trace of woe-is-me. Full Review

Moira MacDonald
February 16, 2012
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

"Declaration of War" movingly chronicles a unique and terrible fight: that of two parents against the cancer that has invaded the brain of their 18-month-old son. Full Review

Wesley Morris
February 16, 2012
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

As ponderous and overwrought as a film hogged by a couple of young hipsters named Roméo and Juliette can be. Full Review

Roger Ebert
February 16, 2012
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The film may even be too upbeat, especially the ending, which is too easy and contrived. Yet there's real emotion here... Full Review

Steven Rea
February 2, 2012
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

Declaration of War feels very present, very alive. And it's very much worth seeing. Full Review

Betsy Sharkey
January 28, 2012
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

A vibrant and heartfelt French film that captures the mood and the memories of young parents who found themselves in the trenches fighting for the life of their child. Full Review

Kyle Smith
January 27, 2012
Kyle Smith, New York Post

"Declaration of War" has it all: comedy, romance, fantasy, musical interludes and a child with a brain tumor. Wait - what? Full Review

Andrew O'Hehir
January 26, 2012
Andrew O'Hehir,

"Declaration of War" still is a profoundly affecting family drama, no matter how much artifice Donzelli piles on top of it. Full Review

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    • Juliette: I'm afraid he'll go blind.
    • Romeo: If he can go blind, he can go deaf.
    • Juliette: I'm afraid he'll go blind and deaf.
    • Romeo: I'm afraid he'll go blind, deaf and mute.
    • Juliette: I'm afraid he'll go blind, deaf, mute and a dwarf.
    • Romeo: I'm afraid he'll go blind, deaf, mute, a dwarf, and queer
    • Juliette: Or blind, deaf, mute, a dwarf, queer, and black.

Declaration of Wa... : Watch Free on TV

Declaration of War Trivia

  • Which movie is the following piece of dialogue from? PRESIDENT WIDMARK [reading] "Declaration of War... the short form."   Answer »

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