Review: ‘Declaration of War’ (M) ? ? ? ?

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I CAN’T tell whether it was deliberate or merely a serendipitous coincidence that shortly after a failed satire on parenting, I watched this powerful French drama about a baby born with a massive brain defect. The huge contrast was emotionally cleansing.

Writers/directors and real-life parents Valerie Donzetti and Jeremie Elkaim play Juliette and Romeo who fell in love across a crowded room and eventually produced Adam, with a tumour pressing on his brain stem that took a while to diagnose then treat. Juliette and Romeo abandoned their professional and economic existence to devote their lives to his welfare.

“Declaration of War” pressed the right buttons for me. It delivers more than just the pair’s negotiation of the French health bureaucracy, at last coming to a surgeon with the skill and the courage to go into a little boy’s head and remove most of the bad stuff, only to learn later that it was malignant. Families and friends rallied in support. They tried to live a normal lifestyle.

In all this, the film portrays a verisimilitude not surprising when you remember that it tells, warts and all, what its makers actually experienced.

Adam at age eight looks like a boy strengthened by his experiences and facing the future, as we all must. The only certain thing in life is its uncertainty.

 

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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