Adapted from Diamant's novel by Elizabeth Chandler and Anne Meredith and directed by Roger Young, "The Red Tent," which premieres Sunday, tells the stories of Jacob and Esau and Joseph of the multicolored coats through the eyes of the women around them. And though it never gets to "cue the locusts" territory, the plot twists required to hit certain biblical touchstones throw up a lot of dust.
Fortunately, Dinah, who faces even more hardship here than in the book, remains dynamic enough to infuse the ancient world with modern spirit without tipping into absurdity. Though she is aided in the first night by a cast that includes Minnie Driver as Leah and as Rachel, it's Ferguson's performance that keeps "The Red Tent" from collapsing.
So it is in the red tent that monthly blood is seen as a gift that "courses through us, cleansing the body of last month's death, preparing the body to receive the new month's life," Leah tells Dinah. Women give thanks there "for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood."
A barely mentioned character in Genesis, where she was known mostly for being raped and sparking slaughter, Dinah is the center of Diamant's feminist reimaging of the clan of Jacob (Iain Glen). Her version of Leah, Rachel and their sister-wives all secretly worship the mother goddess and find communal womb-centric power in the red tent, to which they retired during menses.