Anders Thomas Jansen

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The King Is Alive Review


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The premise is irresistible, combining dark humor with existential crisis. A busload of travelers gets lost in the Namibian desert, hundreds of miles from anywhere. After predicting this merry band of survivors will soon be killing each other over a sip of water, one member of the party suggests they stage an amateur performance of William Shakespeare's King Lear. At first, it's simply an enjoyable way to fiddle away the endless hours. Before long, however, this cast of laymen discover meaning and dangerous irony in the text. "You don't have to worry," assures their resident Goneril (Janet McTeer): "Nobody falls in love. And everybody dies in the end."

Kristian Levring's The King is Alive operates on a conceptual, pseudo-intellectual level, perhaps a touch too orderly to convey true madness. As the players become embroiled in King Lear, jealous Catherine (Romane Bohringer) plots against young hipster Gina (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who won the much-envied role of Cordelia. Meanwhile, disgruntled housewife Liz (McTeer) seduces the exotic black bus driver (Vusi Kunene) before the very eyes of her passive husband (Bruce Davison). As the actor playing King Lear (Brion James) quickly falls to pieces from dysentery, the scholarly director (David Bradley) watches the proceedings with detached malice, chuckling, "Is man no more than this?" And whatever became of Aussie survivalist Jack (Miles Anderson), who took off into the desert to find help?

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The King Is Alive Movie Review

The King Is Alive Movie Review

The premise is irresistible, combining dark humor with existential crisis. A busload of travelers...

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