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Movies rarely suffer from an excess of artistic integrity, a situation that the Danish Dogma 95 filmmaking collective was founded to combat. Shot in 1999, Kristian Levring’s The King Is Alive is the latest Dogma production to reach our shores. In Levring and Anders Thomas Jensen’s grim screenplay, 11 passengers on a stranded bus seek shelter in a sweltering North African ghost town. As provisions (canned carrots well beyond their shelf life) and hope of rescue diminish, the group decides to pass the time by rehearsing a play. Their choice is King Lear, in which “nobody has to fall in love and everybody gets to die in the end.” (If I were in their situation, I’d opt for something cheerier—Guys and Dolls, perhaps, or an early Neil Simon comedy.) The combination of Shakespeare’s savage tragedy and the direness of the travelers’ plight triggers the release of sexual and violent impulses. Shot with handheld digital cameras and subsequently transferred to 35-mm, The King Is Alive has an appropriately raw visual style, interweaving grainy, sepia-toned close-ups with textured, dreamlike desertscapes. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer, and Bruce Davison head an international ensemble cast of unsparing performers, but the narrative’s choppy continuity, obsession with bodily excretions, and relentless misanthropy become suffocatingly oppressive. (A representative line of dialogue: “When you touch me, you make me want to puke.”) Although it’s difficult to dismiss Levring’s uncompromising seriousness, I couldn’t be bribed to sit through this punishing movie again. —Joel E. Siegel