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The King Is Alive Review


OK
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?

Continue reading: The King Is Alive Review

The King Is Alive Review


Good

Lost in the African desert after their bus breaks down far off the beaten path, a handful of European tourists try to maintain sanity and civility by distracting themselves with ad hoc rehearsals for a do-it-yourself "King Lear" production in "The King Is Alive."

What comes of the experience, however, is not a productive pulling together. Bouts of bitterness quickly arise between couples, base behavior surfaces among those who feel they have nothing to lose, and with the portent of possible death looming as large as the blistering desert sun, individuals turn inward to face their own demons. Sanity and civility hang on by a very thin thread.

Co-written and directed by Kristian Levring as his contribution to the Dogme95 collective -- a quartet of Dutch filmmakers experimenting with cinematic minimalism -- the film's vérité style of handheld cameras and natural light (per the Dogme rules) makes it pop with tension and raw emotion as the tourists unravel.

Continue reading: The King Is Alive Review

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Miles Anderson Movies

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...

The King Is Alive Movie Review

The King Is Alive Movie Review

Lost in the African desert after their bus breaks down far off the beaten path,...

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