Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
Roméo and Juliette are two young actors. They fall in love at first sight, move in together and make a baby. A love story and the founding of a home like millions of others. Except that their little boy, Adam, behaves abnormally. The young parents try hard to persuade themselves that everything is okay but, with the passing of time, they cannot delude themselves anymore : their son has problem. Their fears are unfortunately confirmed : Adam suffers from a malignant brain tumor. From now on, war is declared. A war against illness. A war against Death. A war against despair. Written by
This is an incredible movie. Just imagine: two young people are attracted to each other, live together happily until they realize the child they have had happens to suffer from a particularly malignant brain tumor, a fact abruptly plunging them into a terrible four-year ordeal, leading them to breakup because of the hardships inherent in the situation, only to..., some time later,... make a film out of this excruciating experience! And not only do they write the story and direct (at least the woman) but they play their own characters as well, carefully replicating a reality that almost destroyed them. How courageous, how daring! A move close to sheer madness... How on earth can one go through the pangs of such an unbearable ordeal... TWICE? And how the devil can one make such a luminous film, able to deal with such a risky subject without falling into the many traps it contains? And how can one manage to give people hope and confidence by talking about death during most of a film? Well, miracles exist, since Valérie Donzelli (director, writer, main actress, makeup artist and hair stylist!) and her former life companion Jérémie Elkaïm (co-writer, main actor) have done just that with "La guerre est déclarée", giving an example that such a feat is within the realms of possibility.
They manage this achievement by immediately finding the right tone and by never falling out of tune afterward. A winning principle announced in the title "Declaration of War", for both the characters are seen fighting instead of crying and moaning. This does not mean they never express their suffering - how could they help it? - but it is the dynamics of their struggle that is put forward, not the apathy their grief and anxiety are likely to generate.
Valérie Donzelli is to be given special credit for her inspired direction. Not only does she pour her heart and soul into the filming of this painful chronicle but she also proves imaginative and creative, making use of an amazing variety of registers, devices and techniques which wind up making this movie unique: incongruous gags including during the most dramatic times; classic documentary (the way the little boy is treated in turns in Marseilles, in Paris and in Villejuif); original montages; inspired use of musical pieces creating the unexpected but effective cohabitation of Vivaldi, Delerue and pop music; resort to musical comedy (with the characters occasionally singing their feelings); use of metaphor (Juliette's disjointed run through the hospital corridor). And those examples are only a sample of all the personal touches Valérie Donzelli brings to this exceptional work.
Never indulging in pathos or sentimentality,"La guerre est déclarée" nevertheless contains very moving scenes or sequences, my personal favorite being the one in which the unfortunate couple, unable to find sleep on the night before their son's operation, tell each other their fears to best calm their fears.
A great shock, but a salutary one, "La guerre est déclarée", both the sincere account of a personal drama and a talented work of art for all, is one of the year 2011's masterpieces.
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