Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Jan 25, 2012
    91
    Sprinting through hospital rooms, parties, sterile corridors, and grayish courtyards, Declaration Of War salutes its characters' capacity to step up and meet life's harshest unexpected demands.
  2. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jan 26, 2012
    90
    In the case of French actress and director Valérie Donzelli's striking and imaginative film Declaration of War, the autobiographical element is so strong that the movie's virtually a docudrama – but a dazzlingly strange docudrama with musical numbers, choreographed interludes and prodigious cinematic verve.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 9, 2012
    88
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Feb 2, 2012
    88
    Valérie Donzelli's Declaration of War deals with issues that may scare audiences away. Don't let it.
  5. 80
    Instead of venturing into mournful "Terms of Endearment" territory, the film - and the filmmakers - commit to a relentless determination to live.
  6. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Jan 26, 2012
    80
    For all its quirks and tangents, Declaration of War feels entirely alive. This story of two people who transform fear into action is inspiring.
  7. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Jan 24, 2012
    80
    Parenting relies on stamina as much as compassion, and Donzelli has, against all odds, crafted a genuinely moving ode to both the tenacity of filial love under extreme circumstances and the toll it extracts. Consider this a coup.
  8. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Jan 24, 2012
    80
    Shot in the actual hospital where Donzelli and Elkaïm's actual son was treated for cancer, Declaration of War turns autobiography into thrilling expressionist art.
  9. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Feb 16, 2012
    75
    You can sense the deep investment Donzelli and Elkaïm have in what they're doing, which isn't something you get at the movies every day.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 15, 2012
    75
    Declaration of War is a domestic comedy as much as it is a medical drama. This movie has been made by the couple it is about, Valerie Donzelli and Jeremie Elkaim. She directed, they wrote it together, and in real life, their relationship also fell apart. They approach their fraught story with a surprising freshness.
  11. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jan 27, 2012
    75
    France's Declaration of War has it all: comedy, romance, fantasy, musical interludes and a child with a brain tumor. Wait - what?
  12. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Jan 26, 2012
    75
    What a treat to find a movie so bright-eyed and true - without a trace of bathos - in its depiction of such a harrowing subject.
  13. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jan 25, 2012
    75
    An adventurous song selection and stylish narrative techniques put a strangely romantic face on a harrowing story that's a parental nightmare.
  14. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Feb 2, 2012
    70
    Declaration of War is about being under siege from illness, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. This modern-day Juliette and Romeo find their own tragedy, but are not poisoned by it.
  15. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jan 27, 2012
    65
    Though it's certainly moving, it suffers from a frantically overproduced desperation to hold what the filmmakers seem to fear will be our wavering attention.
  16. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jan 26, 2012
    65
    Between the Truffautish voice-overs and Jacques Demy-style musical interludes, it's a wonder anyone in this sort-of drama, sort-of comedy ever gets any rest.
  17. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jan 24, 2012
    63
    Although they are no longer together and are living their own separate personal lives, their story, fictionalized but still autobiographical, bonded them for life. Apparently, they are best friends whose dedicated collaboration was the only way they could tell this harrowing story. It's a brave effort any way you slice it.
  18. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jan 22, 2012
    63
    The surest sign that a filmmaker recognizes the insularity of his or her project is the presence of perfunctory attempts to hint at a wider political context.
  19. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Feb 16, 2012
    60
    Donzelli, a busy actress in France, directed this drama from a script she wrote with Elkaim, which may explain why the parents become the center of the movie while the ostensibly suffering boy never takes shape as a character.
  20. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 26, 2012
    60
    This isn't a therapy session on film; it's a visually stark, lively, organically engrossing movie with a very real handle on the mental processes, and interpersonal demands, that come with issues of life and death.
  21. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Feb 16, 2012
    50
    As ponderous and overwrought as a film hogged by a couple of young hipsters named Roméo and Juliette can be.

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