I Declare War (2014)

April 27th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director.: Jason Lapeyre, Robert Wilson

Cast: Siam Yu, Gage Monroe, Michael Friend, Mackenzie Munro

Canada 2012, 90 min.

Two groups of twelve year olds play “Capture the Flag” in a wood. One group is led by the enigmatic PK, the other one by the bully Quinn. When Quinn captures Kwon, PK’s best friend, a rather nasty element is introduced: Quinn starts to torture Kwon for real, and only Quinn’s stupidity and arrogance allows Kwon to escape. Surprisingly, PK insists on Kwan’s return to their HQ up in a tree, that Kwan returns voluntarily to Quinn, giving himself up, so that PK can execute his master plan. Whilst PK succeeds in humiliating Quinn, he looses Kwon’s friendship.

The main concern one has with the film, is that the weapons used by the children change often from make-shift to real, sticks to machine guns, balloons filled with red paint into grenades. Sure, the real weapons don’t kill, but the effect is very unsettling. Even though the child actors improvise their dialogue, everything seems stilted, unreal. The narrative is unstructured, and the actions seem accidental. There is no overriding concept, just endless fighting and very little real communication. Further more, the only female character, Jess, who is in love with one of the boys, seems to be totally displaced among the boys. One can’t always expect classics like Jeux interdits or La guerre des Boutons, but I DECLARE WAR not only fails in this respect, but opens itself up to some serious concerns regarding its use of weapons, and showing, more often than not, the rather dark side of its youthful protagonists.

The camera is as hectic as the action, the setting very unimaginative, leaving the child actors as the only positive element of this production. A film about children, seen through the eyes of adults, who seem to have forgotten any joy of childhood. Somehow, one understands why this film has been left on the shelf for two years. AS




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