TV Review: ‘The Red Tent’

The Red Tent TV Review

Marrying biblical heft with the particular bonds between mothers and daughters (as well as moms’ noble sacrifices), Anita Diamant’s bestseller “The Red Tent” is a perfect fit for Lifetime, conceptually speaking, and it’s been turned into a handsome melodrama, starring Rebecca Ferguson (“The White Queen”), who doubles as narrator of her woe-filled tale. Literary in tone and shot with considerable scope in Morocco, the first half of this four-hour miniseries proves stronger than the second, but by then viewers should be firmly invested in the story, which, by moving women front and center, cleverly redresses the Bible’s male-oriented tilt.

“My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust,” Ferguson’s Dinah tells us in voiceover at the outset, signaling the focus of what’s to come.

Spanning decades, Diamant’s twist on the Old Testament begins by shifting the emphasis from Jacob (“Game of Thrones’” Iain Glen) to his four wives, including Dinah’s mother Leah (Minnie Driver) and Rachel (Morena Baccarin), who passes on her knowledge of midwifery to the girl. Having blessed Jacob with nearly a dozen sons, including the visionary Joseph (Will Tudor), the women convene under a red tent, where they share sororal ties and rituals with each other, as well as with the strong-willed Dinah.

Forced to flee from his land of Canaan, Jacob eventually decides to return home, where Dinah is schooled by her grandmother (Debra Winger). Soon, though, she catches the eye of a prince, yielding unexpected and tragic consequences due to the jealousy of her other brothers toward the dreamy Joseph, who their father dotes on, and regularly turns to for counsel.

The tide of those events sets Dinah adrift in part two, though as adapted by Elizabeth Chandler and Anne Meredith and directed by Roger Young, it’s clear there’s no escaping her tumultuous past. Certainly, “The Red Tent” brims with big flourishes — revenge, betrayal, heartbreak — and embroidered narration (“From that moment on, her heart was his”; or “He was the miracle that kept me alive. For him, I could bear anything”), but barring a few arid patches, the quality casting and unabashed emotion brings it satisfyingly home.

Despite the recognizable names, much of the production’s appeal can be attributed to the Swedish-born Ferguson, who with her earlier Starz showcase now has two solid miniseries under her belt.

In pragmatic terms, the biblical setting provides an arresting backdrop for soapy material that otherwise falls squarely in Lifetime’s wheelhouse. And while the network is unlikely to rival sister channel History’s success with “The Bible,” between the book’s devotees and the subject matter, one suspects this fairly sizable bet on “The Red Tent” will leave the network in the black.

TV Review: 'The Red Tent'

(Miniseries; Lifetime, Sun.-Mon. Dec. 7-8, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Morocco by Sony Pictures Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Paula Weinstein, Nancy Bennett; producers, Elizabeth Chandler, Peter McAleese; director, Roger Young; writers, Anne Meredith, Chandler, based on the book by Anita Diamant; camera, Michael Snyman; production designer, Amelia Weavind; editor, Arthur Tarnowski; music, Laurent Eyquem; casting, Marcia Ross, Jeremy Zimmermann. 4 HOURS

Cast

Rebecca Ferguson, Minnie Driver, Morena Baccarin, Iain Glen, Will Tudor, Debra Winger

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  1. Janice says:

    That is my favorite book. And this movie really has nothing the even realizes the story line if the book. Yeah I understand that movies are not the same as books exmñple GOT . But its not anything as the book. Am I have read it hundred times. Sorry that is my opinion. Did a bad job With this great novel. Even if it was just a small part of Genius. but nothing was compare to what the beauty that this great created. Great. Book! Best of all times, an empowerment to women if all of times. But the film sucked.lol

  2. AC says:

    This movie was highly offensive and should not have been made. This movie promoted idol worship and had very little to do with promoting the relationships betweenwwomen. Next time they should not use characters from the bible. If you want to promote idol worship under the guise of feminism do it somewhere else. This was poorly done

  3. Elizabeth Brackett says:

    Omg!!!!!! Love,love,love!!!!!

  4. Both chapters were wonderful, & I enjoyed them so much that both have been recorded on the DVR. To bring characters of the Bible to life, more of this type movie should be made. Now, with this movie, when I look at this particular section of the Old Testament, it comes ALIVE. Please make more of these, using characters, carefully researched, brought to ‘life’.

  5. Karen Christian says:

    Loved the mini series. The casting was right on. Joseph was recently discovered to be a red head from his funerary effigy found in Egypt. So the reddish brown hair of your “Joseph” was perfect. Also the beardless Egyptians verses the bearded Canaanites and Dinah’s second husband was historically accurate. Rebecca Ferguson did a wonderful job as Dinah. Please let this go to DVD quickly as I know
    several people will buy it. As for Rebecca Ferguson I think we are seeing a future Oscar nominee in the making.

    • Gail Harrington says:

      I would love to see again. I recorded it and the 2nd part we couldn’t see because we had a big storm and it didn’t record.

  6. blutodog says:

    I found it somewhat disturbing. As a non-religious Jew I was a bit insulted, I can just imagine what the religious community must have thought of this attempt to rewrite history.

  7. lgs2012 says:

    Loved the series…make it a weekly show.

  8. linda says:

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was one of the best 2part mini series. that I have ever seen. Waited a week to see it. It was very much worth the wait. The women portrayed in this movie were some of the strongest loving women. Dinah went thru some of the most painful ruthless times in her life. But she never gave up. Due to the women who raised her to be strong. Just an amazing movie. I loved it. Hope maybe to see more just like it. uin the ear future. BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Nor Serrao says:

    I found this to be a very well done job of portraying the story. Although I know of another story, I still took to heart this one. I felt every emotion Dinah felt and all her pain and suffering. I enjoyed dearly this two episode journey. I wI’ll pass it along to all my friends!

  10. stacerella says:

    So, the first half is great, and the second one bores? Huh. Just like the book. Seriously. I am disappointed in the casting, though. These aren’t supposed to be white women, but I suppose Christian women should only be white on tv screens lest American not tune in.

    • Jean says:

      The people at that time were not Christians. Christianity didn’t begin until several thousand years later.

      • Erica says:

        There is no reason for name calling. White actors were only cast in the positive roles, which was very distracting to me. I also agree (from a reveiewer on another site) that doing so “… reinforces the idea, especially accent-wise, that heroes are English, and everyone else is indistinguishably foreign. The most egregious example is of blonde-haired, blue-eyed and fair-skinned Joseph (Will Tudor), who stands in stark contrast to his brown, scheming brothers Simon (Saif Al-Warith) and Levi (Pedro Lloyd Gardiner).”

      • lgs2012 says:

        Great reply to the UNINFORMED RACIST…..

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