I Declare War | Chicago Reader

I Declare War

This Canadian feature cleverly mixes archetypes from war films and coming-of-age movies, defamiliarizing both genres in the process. It takes place over the course of an afternoon as a group of preteens play an elaborate war game in the woods, drawing on their surprisingly rich knowledge of military history to determine their strategies. Since the movie doesn’t show us anything beyond the woods, the game comes to seem increasingly real, with some of the scenes of bullying assuming the force of actual violence. Jason Lapeyre’s script is compellingly ambiguous—the preadolescent behavior is too sharply drawn for the story to register as allegory, yet the kids’ actions carry such strong emotional consequences that the game never seems trivial. The movie follows its own creepy, opaque logic and leaves a strong aftertaste. Lapeyre and Robert Wilson directed.

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