Sunday, April 14, 2013

I DECLARE WAR (2012) movie review

I Declare War (2012) d. Lapeyre, Jason / Wilson, Robert (Canada)

A wondrous coming-of-age examination of the culture of combat, as inventive in its gimmickry as it is deceptively clear-eyed regarding the hierarchies of childhood. Two group of kids gather on either sides of the forest to play out their ongoing Capture the Flag tournament, undefeated pint-sized master strategist Gage Munroe’s scrappy band facing off against the challengers led by cool intellectual Aidan Gouveia and his tempestuous second-in-command Michael Friend. But the rules of engagement are only effective if both sides adhere, and on this particular day, new terms are being brought to bear – strategies such as “coup,” “torture,” and the most terrifying of all, “girls.”

Lapeyre, in addition to delivering richly authentic young adult-speak and interpersonal dynamics, further enlivens the proceedings with the highly enjoyable convention of portraying the onscreen “combat” through the kids’ eyes – sticks become assault weapons, slingshots turn into crossbows and paint-filled balloons stand in for lethal grenades. These boisterous sequences are nicely countered by quieter moments, where subtle emotional manipulations cut as deep as any machete.

For slightly aged viewers such as myself, it’s also a blast of nostalgia for the days before videogames and home computers, where one’s local gang and their collective imagination wiled away many a summer afternoon. Highly Recommended.

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