Review: ‘Slave of Dreams’

Filmed in Ouarzazate, Morocco, by Dino De Laurentiis Communications in association with Showtime Entertainment. Producers, Martha De Laurentiis, Dino De Laurentiis; line producer, Lucio Trentini; director, Robert M. Young; writer, Ron Hutchinson; camera, Beppe Maccari; editor, Norman Buckley; production designer, Pier Luigi Basile; art director, Marco Trentini; sound, Michel Kharat; music, Christopher Tyng. TX:Cast: Edward James Olmos, Sherilyn Fenn, Adrian Pasdar, Philip Newman, Nadia Sawalha, Nabil Shaban, Orso Maria Guerrini, Kevork Malikyan, Anthony Samuel Selby, Emanuele Carucci Viterbi, Houda Koutaibi, Mohamed Serraj, Mekki Mansouri, Mustapha Slaoui, Hassan Bajja, Francesco Carnelutti. Abiblical tale produced by Dino De Laurentiis is bound to be visually gorgeous, and this second pic in the Showtime Bible series (following the same team's "Solomon & Sheba") doesn't disappoint on that score. The script must have been an afterthought, however, and director Robert M. Young can't coax anything spectacular from two of his leading players. Such wide-open material could use a more focused treatment. Thing is, she's been dreaming of lying with Joseph, and the fact that the couple hasn't had any kids heightens tension. Joseph becomes a household steward , and when Zulaikha tries to seduce him the triangle breaks under the strain. Joseph is banished to work on a tomb and eventually becomes the Pharaoh's (Orso Maria Guerrini) right-hand man after making sense of his dreams. Far from being enslaved by his dream-telling ability, Joseph's powers are ultimately liberating for all. Potiphar and the Mrs. even become fertile.

Filmed in Ouarzazate, Morocco, by Dino De Laurentiis Communications in association with Showtime Entertainment. Producers, Martha De Laurentiis, Dino De Laurentiis; line producer, Lucio Trentini; director, Robert M. Young; writer, Ron Hutchinson; camera, Beppe Maccari; editor, Norman Buckley; production designer, Pier Luigi Basile; art director, Marco Trentini; sound, Michel Kharat; music, Christopher Tyng. TX:Cast: Edward James Olmos, Sherilyn Fenn, Adrian Pasdar, Philip Newman, Nadia Sawalha, Nabil Shaban, Orso Maria Guerrini, Kevork Malikyan, Anthony Samuel Selby, Emanuele Carucci Viterbi, Houda Koutaibi, Mohamed Serraj, Mekki Mansouri, Mustapha Slaoui, Hassan Bajja, Francesco Carnelutti. Abiblical tale produced by Dino De Laurentiis is bound to be visually gorgeous, and this second pic in the Showtime Bible series (following the same team’s “Solomon & Sheba”) doesn’t disappoint on that score. The script must have been an afterthought, however, and director Robert M. Young can’t coax anything spectacular from two of his leading players. Such wide-open material could use a more focused treatment. Thing is, she’s been dreaming of lying with Joseph, and the fact that the couple hasn’t had any kids heightens tension. Joseph becomes a household steward , and when Zulaikha tries to seduce him the triangle breaks under the strain. Joseph is banished to work on a tomb and eventually becomes the Pharaoh’s (Orso Maria Guerrini) right-hand man after making sense of his dreams. Far from being enslaved by his dream-telling ability, Joseph’s powers are ultimately liberating for all. Potiphar and the Mrs. even become fertile.

It’s fun to see the Old Testament injected with vibrant color. The Moroccan landscape is gorgeous, and sets, makeup and costumes delight while coming close to kitsch.

Ron Hutchinson’s script, on the other hand, lacks texture, and the awkward dialogue doesn’t provide any take on the story other than a message about trusting in fate. Joseph is a cipher. Yarn does get more interesting when it turns away from the love triangle toward the dazzling tomb and its future occupant, the Pharaoh.

Olmos brings intensity and a ferocious nobility to his part. Fenn and Pasdar are a bore. She’s not epic (or even period) material, but her continuing impersonation of Elizabeth Taylor generates some vulnerability, which, combined with sensuous glimpses of her body, suffices for the role. Pasdar’s ability to sport a loincloth and look otherworldly doesn’t carry him too far.

Young takes pleasure in the atmospherics and in secondary characters such as a crippled soothsayer. Christopher Tyng’s music is a mix of earthly and ethereal sounds that’s meant to be authentic. Some dubbed English voices aren’t in sync.

Slave of Dreams

(Sun. (10), 8-9:30 p.m., Showtime)

Production

Joseph, given a placid turn by Adrian Pasdar, is able to read dreams -- and he's dreamy to boot. Story begins after his brothers have sold him into slavery and he's taken to Egypt, where the royal executioner Potiphar (Edward James Olmos) buys him to interpret his wife Zulaikha's (Sherilyn Fenn's) nightmares.
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