The use of the word "war" may be a touch of hyperbole, but when a mother discovers there's something wrong with her child, she's quick to go into warrior mode against whatever and whoever is keeping him from being the icon of perfection she demands. So it is with Valerie Donzelli, director, co-writer and star of "Declaration of War," a French entry right from any "disease of the week" television series.
Donzelli and Jeremie Elkaim are the parents of Gabriel Elkaim, now 10. All three play themselves in a fictionalized (they say) account of their life and his illness. They were living together when Gabriel was a baby and a brain tumor was discovered. Both are actors and writers, but they made a mistake when they named their own characters Romeo and Juliette; it's too easy to reach silliness from this starting point.
Actually, Donzelli is more in panic mode than in battle regalia as she wages war on a hospital staff, treating doctors and nurses as if they were second-class citizens who should drop whatever they are doing to deal with Gabriel and his mother.
It's nice to know that Gabriel is well again, but it's difficult to understand why the French film industry could not find a better movie to submit for the foreign language Oscar, but showing the kind of wisdom it shows very rarely, the Academy eliminated this one in an early round.
Declaration of War opens today at the Tivoli