It's a match made in Gaellic heaven when our romantic duo first meet. Angular Juliette (Valerie Donzelli), with her striking eyes and tight, aggressive chin, is demure. Wire-thin, ostritch-like Romeo (Jeremie Elkaim) is playful, and equally aggressive. Together, through the haze of a crowded party, they find a wavelength, grooving to the beats, their eyes and hips locking as if they were jail cells. First comes the intensity of love, all blushing cheeks, smirking love-making, and striking political conversation. The early scenes of "Declaration Of War" do not hide from this swooning courtship -- this will last forever.
Being similar young professionals, bonded by an undeniable love, they become an island unto themselves. Friends come by and console them, but it's simply white noise to the couple, so confident they're going to barrel through this issue and come out on the other side feeling better. As a result, each doctor's visit becomes a battle, with the two of them desperate to extract whatever good news they can from the most dire circumstances. They have no bad luck. Rather, this disease is an enemy, and they are under attack. And they'll need just about every weapon at their disposal, fueled by optimism.
A late moment when the duo react to bad news by going to a theme park features a sequence with the two of them on a series of rides, accompanied by Laurie Anderson's "O Superman." Anderson's moody experimental pop hit from the eighties, which calls into question the essence of pop culture heroes, fits accurately in observing the lead couple, who continue to fuel their campaign against this particular terror with smiles. Even with their own bright-eyed rebellion towards the sometimes-suffocating institution of marriage, they remain united against their common enemy, the remaining strength of their convictions making them the kind of complicated heroes of Anderson's song.
Donzelli directed "Declaration Of War" from a script by her and Elkaim, using the real-life couple's true story. Which is the sort of non-diegetic detail that enriches "Declaration Of War" and makes you re-evaluate the picture as a work of art. One of the ways our characters maintain their sanity is through art projects, and the very existence of 'Declaration' is proof that this method of coping continues for the pair. This is not the end of our story, Donzelli and Elkaim are saying, merely the beginning of your involvement. It is a philosophy shared by all great movies. [A]