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:

Official site

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

Aggie: Do you care nothing for your daughter?
Henry: I care a great deal for them both.
Aggie: Cecil tell him!
Cecil: [to her mother] I don't want to hurt John... or my sister.
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

Well Done
8 March 2003 | by QueenMakeda84See all my reviews

This movie was breathtaking to me. I figured it went straight to video since I never saw any previews for it. Jessica Alba is a favorite of mine anyway, so I have a bias I suppose. The movie was beautifully shot and the music was in great taste. I had never heard of sleeping dictionaries, so it was an interesting lesson. At first, Jessica didn't seem to fit the look of the other natives, but it made sense when she was mixed and I could see where her complexion played in. Her accent was surprisingly believable. Hugh was adorable as the sheepish "leader" of the community. It made all the sense in the world that they would fall for each other. I liked the angle of the British hypocrisy. It was alright to sleep with the people the ruled or "civilized", but not good enough to marry them or acknowledge the children they had with these people. It resonated with me because the same thing happened with slavery in America. I thought that angle was well played out. I do agree with some other users that they fell in love too quickly and they weren't together enough for the audience to see that dynamic. They spent far too much of the movie apart for it to be so dramatic and "love at all costs" type of love. It was weird that he left his wife who was pregnant for Selima, but I guess Cecil knew he wouldn't be happy with their little "family". I identified with her struggle to please her husband and hold onto him. Imagine that many wives of the colonialism era probably felt that way when their husbands desired not just another woman, but a woman they felt was inferior. It was a great movie. Watch it.


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