6.6/10
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54 user 8 critic

The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)

Trailer
2:26 | Trailer
A young Englishman is sent to Malaysian Borneo in the 1930s to stay with a tribe as UK's colonial representative. A local woman (J.Alba) helps him understand local tradition and language. He falls in love with her etc. despite the taboo.

Director:

Guy Jenkin

Writer:

Guy Jenkin
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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jessica Alba ... Selima
Brenda Blethyn ... Aggie
Hugh Dancy ... John Truscott
Bob Hoskins ... Henry
Christopher Ling Lee Ian Christopher Ling Lee Ian ... Jasmine
Junix Inocian ... Famous
Michael Jessing Langgi Michael Jessing Langgi ... Melaka
Mano Maniam Mano Maniam ... Policeman
K.K. Moggie ... Tipong
Emily Mortimer ... Cecil
Cicilia Anak Richard Cicilia Anak Richard ... Jester Woman
Malcolm Rogers Malcolm Rogers ... Vicar
Eugene Salleh Eugene Salleh ... Belansai
Noah Taylor ... Neville
Kate Helen White Kate Helen White ... Mandar
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Storyline

John Truscott goes to Borneo to work with the Iban. He reports to Henry Bullard, who gives him a "sleeping dictionary"--one of the locals who teaches him the local language and culture. And who he gives John is Selima. And while teaching him, John finds himself attracted to her. And we says it's not allowed, both the locals and Bullard forbid him to be in a relationship with Selima. But he defies them which has dire consequences. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Learn to speak her language.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fine Line Features Article

Country:

UK | USA | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 January 2003 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Kärlekens lexikon See more »

Filming Locations:

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$57,524
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jessica Alba said that she disliked this film and her performance in it. See more »

Goofs

When Selima and Truscott are given the turquoise bracelets, she takes Truscott's off and wears it. In the next shot, she gives him hers but she's still holding his. See more »

Quotes

John Truscott: I want us to be happy.
Cecil: Then why aren't we?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)
Written by Brooks Bowman
Performed by Mary Carewe
See more »

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User Reviews

Engaging romance, beautiful scenery
9 March 2004 | by elmer_saundersSee all my reviews

While overseas, I had heard the concept of the movie and the fact the appealing Jessica Alba was featured but had little chance to check on the actual film. When I returned to the USA late last year, I found the film had gone directly to video with limited availability (couldn't get it at Blockbuster, for instance). I am glad that I wound up buying a copy (although I found a 'used' DVD for half the new asking price).

It is a shame the film never appeared in theaters as the visuals of Sarawak would have been great on the large screen and the audio and music are well done and would have benefited from a theatrical environment.

BELOW IS DISCUSSION OF PLOT ELEMENTS WHICH MIGHT SPOIL IT FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM.

While overall the plot line was reasonable and avoided cliche, there were a number of disconnects as far as I was concerned.

Truscott's dilemma with Bullard after the miners' slaughter arrives too abruptly and presumes some sort of offscreen confession. Since it is a central conflict in the drama, it really deserves more explanation.

Similarly, the "one year later" leap to Truscott's marrying Cecil Bullard lacked sincerity. Why would Truscutt marry the daughter of those who wedged him away from his true love? While one can imagine various possibilities, the lack of on screen justification left me unfulfilled.

Finally, even after conversion by Sarawak and its people, Truscutt is still too much of a proper Englishman to credibly leave a pregnant wife. Some of the sympathy I'd built up for the forbidden lovers was undercut by the way this was handled. It would have been far better for Cecil to push a reluctant Truscutt away.

Still, these plot issues are relatively small in comparison to a film, cast and cinematography that rose well above the small budget and unheralded distribution. I rarely buy videos or DVDs because I find I seldom go back to play them, but this one I will enjoy owning.


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