02 November 2015

Movie/Miniseries Review: "The Red Tent"

Rated: TV-14 for sexual scenes and violence (US) / 14-A (Canada)
Starring: Rebecca Ferguson, Minnie Driver, and Morena Baccarin
Released: December 7-8, 2014 (Lifetime premiere)
Synopsis: Dinah, the only daughter of Biblical patriarch Jacob, grows up enjoying the company of her mother and Jacob's other wives in a place known as the Red Tent.  As Dinah grows up, her skills as a midwife are in demand, but her life seems to be fraught with tragedy.  Just when she seems to have fallen in love, the unthinkable happens.  Will she be able to forgive those responsible?
Based on the book by Anita Diamant, which itself is based on parts of the Biblical book of Genesis.  Also starring Debra Winger (Shadowlands).

The Good: The production values of this movie were outstanding; the performances were amazing and appropriately heart-searing at times, while the scenery and sets definitely took me back to Bible times.  Though Dinah may be the main character, this film also ties into the stories of Jacob and his wives, as well as the well-known account of Joseph.

The Bad: As good as this is, it did have some serious issues.  First off, the sexual content was a bit over the top.  I understand that sex plays a part in a story like this, but, seriously...did we need to see a man touch a woman's private anatomy? Sure, they can't show explicit nudity on basic cable, but, it sure seemed like the makers wanted to do just that.  That and the rather bloody violence makes this inappropriate for kids and even some young teens.  Also, some changes to the story messed things up a bit.  While Genesis 34:2 makes it clear that Dinah was raped, in this version, the sex was consensual.  I realize that some extra scenes are necessary in a celluloid adaptation of a Bible story, but to change a major plot point was just unnecessary.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Several sex scenes feature passionate kissing and orgasmic behaviors; sex is also discussed among the women a few times; right many childbirth scenes, none of which are graphic, but one features a cut made to a woman's private anatomy (not shown). 1/5
  • Nudity: Women's bare shoulders, midriffs, bare legs, and even part of one's chest are seen; bare-chested men are also seen fairly frequently.  Two scenes feature fully nude men seen from the back; no explicit nudity is seen, though. 2/5
  • Language: The b-word is used in reference to a dog, though the context makes it a bit more demeaning. 4/5
  • Violence: Two men go on a rampage and murder the men of another city, which is not gory, but quite bloody, and leaves blood on others' hands and garments; a girl is found dead; some of the men get into brawls; a fisticuff leads to a slightly bloody injury. 1/5
  • Drugs: One character grows herbs for medicinal purposes. 4/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Along with the violence, emotional intensity is seen throughout, and some of the men--especially Jacob and Joseph--get rather angry. 2/5
  • Other: Liberties are taken with the Biblical account. 1/5
Conclusion: The Red Tent is the edgiest movie--okay, it's technically a miniseries; same difference!--I've seen in a long time, if not ever.  While it doesn't violate the rules of basic cable or include much in the way of profanity, it seems to commit every content-related sin but that, including straying from the Book that inspired it.  It's a shame; the production values and performances were so good, this could have been an old-school-style Biblical epic.  Instead, it's one I won't bother with again, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, either.

Score: 2/5

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