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The Sleeping Dictionary

Jessica Alba , Brenda Blethyn , Guy Jenkin    DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 169.99
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Don't let the title fool you: The Sleeping Dictionary is the most seductive argument for foreign-language education a boy ever had. Hugh Dancy is a young and idealistic colonial official posted to Britain's deep-jungle Sarawak outpost in 1939, and Jessica Alba (Dark Angel) is the "sleeping dictionary," a sexy tutor who proves that the fastest way to learn a language is through lovemaking. Guy Jenkin trades in old clichés for new ones in his revision of the exotic old melodramas of forbidden love between handsome colonial men and gorgeous, guileless native girls. Alba's accent slips and slides but she's a sweet, sexy, and beguiling presence, while Bob Hoskins and Brenda Blethyn uphold the all-important appearance of British morality. If you can overlook the contrivances, it makes for a lush romantic fantasy about the triumph of love over the hypocrisy of so-called civilized society. --Sean Axmaker

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sleeping Dictionary is breath-taking June 16 2004
By A Customer
This movie was an unexpected delight. I took my kids to see "Ella Enchanted" and found the prince to be played by Hugh Dancy. Not knowing who he was at the time, I decided to go to the local video store and looking in their big book of movies/actors discovered that he was not only in "BlackHawk Down," but he was in "The Sleeping Dictionary." I ended up watching the movie three times in one week (once with my husband)!
The film's setting was amazing, with lush tropical jungles and rivers. The plot was adventureous and playful. The main characters were engaging and fun to watch. There was great physical and emotional chemistry between the two main characters, so the love scenes were sweet and touching.
I have been recommending this film to my friends and co-workers. For me "The Sleeping Dictionary" is a sleeper that turned into a definate keeper! I will definately be looking for more films with Hugh Dancy! I love that playful and devilish smile!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
"The Sleeping Dictionary" was a direct to video film, which is rather surprisingly given both its cast and its look, as borne out by the film winning four DVD Exclusive Awards in 2003 for Best Actress Jessica Alba, Best Cinematography by Martin Fuhrer, Best Supporting Actor Bob Hoskins, and Best Supporting Actress Brenda Blethyn. This really is too good of a film to be a DVD Premier Movie, but hopefully word will get around, even if it is to check out Jessica Alba wearing colorful tribal outfits.
The setting is Sarawak, Malaysia in 1937, when young John Truscott (Hugh Dancy), fresh out of university (where he tended to read books), has come to serve his Majesty's government as an official of the Empire. The regional governor is Henry Bullard (Hoskins), who oversees the Iban, a tribe of friendly headhunters. John, like his father, has a dream of educating the Iban children, but that requires him to learn the local language and customs. The governor arranges for John to have a "sleeping dictionary," a local girl who will both teach the young Englishmen to speak the language and tutor him in the ways of love.
The girl selected for John is Selima (Alba), who is half Iban and have British. John initially resists the second part of his education, but in the end falls in love with this beautiful and sensual woman, which violates the taboos of both cultures. Meanwhile, the governor wants his daughter, Cecil (Emily Mortimer) to marry John, and the situation conspires to give our young hero no choice but to stick to the elitist traditions of his own people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Jessica Alba and Hugh Dancy lift up this terribly melodrmatic story about the early 20th century, when an Englishman named John Trascott in the most remote outpost in Sarawak, Indonesia, meets a native girl Selima, 'a sleeping dictionary.' According to the film, the long-standing custom has it that to learn the language of the place, the newly arrived officers are to sleep with the native girls every night.
Pillow talk is the best way to learn foreign words, so the film says, and most guys would agree with that idea. Not John. John refused to follow the custom, but anyway you know it's Jessica Alba. Selima is a spirited girl, but this time it is not futuristic world of "Dark Angel," but deep in the forest of exotic Asia, so who can resist? But after they come to really love each other, complicated things start to happen, making them look like Romeo and Juliet, only difference being there could be a way out.
The film is actually good. Acting is superb, especially the two leads, and you got Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, and Noah Taylor. The location is perfect because the film was shot there, so jungles look really jungles, not some park in California. The humid atmophere which must have annoyed the cast and the crew can be felt on the screen, and Ms. Alba looks like the character she is playing, even though, thanks to her former TV appearance, I still feel that she could get out of any trouble, eliminating every one of them in her way with ease.
But why three stars, you might say? Sorry, it's the story, which can be divided into two parts. The first, gentler one is much more engaging and charming than the second, contrived one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very romantic! Hugh Dancy is great! March 2 2004
Just watched this movie not long ago. I love it! Very romantic with beautiful sceneries and beautiful actors! I was so attracted to Hugh Dancy after watching this. Not only was he extremely handsome, charismatic, but also a great actor! Jessica Alba is very beautiful too. Both Dancy and Alba have great chemistry. The 2 reminded me of the characters, Princess Adrienne & handsome thief, Philip Chamberlain, from romantic the novel "Sweet Revenge" (you people gotta read this book! It's fabulous!) by famous author Nora Roberts. Dancy & Alba fits the role 100% if this novel ever being make into a movie. Anyway, back to the movie. For those who loves Romance movies with beautiful actors/actresses, this is a MUST watch for you. Girls will be stunned by Dancy's charisma & guys will fall head over heels for Alba.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sleeping Dictionary
I enjoyed this movie. I thought it was a good movie over all. Good story line and great acting. I am a fan of Hugh Dancy.
Published 11 months ago by mariavicente
4.0 out of 5 stars A good film
This film has beautiful scenery and fine acting. The story line is good - it makes for good watching. The film is rather dated though and the sex scenes are anything but explicit. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bernard S. Creighton
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleeping Dictionary
Hugh Dancy is simply fantastic in this movie, the scenery is beautiful and the story line is unusual. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2009 by A. Luke
2.0 out of 5 stars Visually Stunning but a Farce
I was astonished to read reviews stating that this film is true to the events of the time in Sarawak, as if these reviewers took the time to look up Sarawak on the internet, they... Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by J Brooke
4.0 out of 5 stars Who do you choose to love?
The setting of colonial Sarawak Malaysia of the late 1930s is the turbulent and fertile ground that yields a classic tale of a love that will not be denied. Read more
Published on May 8 2004 by patrickb63
5.0 out of 5 stars I like HUGH DANCY!
Viewers can find many things to criticize about this movie. I am partial to Hugh Dancy. For me, it made a movie I normally wouldn't see worth watching. Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars HUGH DANCY IS DASHING !
Now, the reason i give it 5 stars is cause of Hugh,I rented this movie about a week ago, And Hugh toppped it,He is the most gorgous thing I've ever seen. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay!
I never, ever heard of this movie and one day i had a good deal at Hollywood video,(buy 2 get 1 free). It looked pretty interesting, so i baught it. It's an ok movie. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars While You were Sleeping with the Dictionary
Only one reason to watch THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY, a lackluster romance/1930's period piece film of forbidden love and that is the presence of Jessica Alba (IDLE HANDS,tv's DARK... Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Sarawak remembered
I saw this film because it was filmed in Malaysia. I expected it to be about events on the Maylay Peninsula,but it wasn't. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by Eric Hirschfeld
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