How does one react when faced with a serious illness in the family? Let alone when the recipient is a child of 18 months. Declaration of War encapsulates the courage of a young couple, confronted with the shattering reality that their son has been diagnosed with cancer. This French film was chosen for the opening of the Alliance Françoise French Film Festival 2012 in Perth. It was selected for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 84th Academy Awards, but unfortunately didn’t progress to the final shortlist.
The justly named Romeo and Juliette share a robust relationship and are a force to be reckoned with. Their love for each other and their son, Adam, transcends language and cultural differences so immediately that you are with them for every moment. They demonstrate such a brutal honesty and trust in each other whilst the course of their lives is suspended in uncertainty and fear. Romeo and Juliette maintain an admirable sense of humour, even in the worst of times. In a darkly humorous scene, they lie in hospital the night before Adam’s neurosurgery, conjuring up all of the worst possible scenarios that could prevent the upcoming operation.
Somehow, despite the heavy subject matter, this is not a film weighed into the abysses of despair; instead it is a celebration of the human spirit and the power of family. We watch as a small community of friends and family unite in a front to overcome this illness. I exited the theatre feeling inspired, as this film serves as a reminder that we will encounter experiences, which could easily defeat us, but only if we permit them.
By Grace McKie
A Declaration of War is screening from May 31st at Luna on SX