55 user 8 critic

The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)

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... See full summary »




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From $2.00 (SD) on Amazon Video

4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Ling Lee Ian ...
Michael Jessing Langgi ...
Mano Maniam ...
Cicilia Anak Richard ...
Malcolm Rogers ...
Eugene Salleh ...
Kate Helen White ...


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


Learn to speak her language.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

31 January 2003 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Kärlekens lexikon  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


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 »


Henry: [Giving Selima to John] She will be living with you.
John Truscott: As what?
Henry: She performs wifely duties.
John Truscott: What like sewing?
Henry: [pause and snicker] She performs wifely duties in the bedroom.
Selima: I sleep with you.
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Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »


East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)
Written by Brooks Bowman
Performed by Mary Carewe
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User Reviews

A Classic Love vs Tradition Story
29 June 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I watched this film after reading the reviews made by others here and i have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it even if I am, outwardly, the perfect example of emotionally repressed male.

Firstly, it isn't going to win Oscars for anything really but that really isn't the point at all and nor should it be. It's a gentle, almost passive, love story that focuses in on the characters but uses their respective backgrounds and the limitations of their society's expectations as a character in its own right. All set in a time and place sufficiently remote to suspend disbelief, but close enough, to enable the viewer to relate.

It's well written, directed, filmed and acted with the actors delivering more than adequate performances that are sufficient to actually care what happens to them.

For the repressed male, like me, who is considering watching this film out of duty to his girlfriend, don't be disheartened you will most likely enjoy it if you allow yourself to. If nothing else the lovely Jessica Alba continues to enchant the male audience with nothing but her screen presence and in some scenes her lack of clothes.

For the female and non-repressed males, I recommend this film to you, not as classic but a sweet, enchanting and humorous love story. You will no doubt only watch the film once but then repeated viewings will add little.

It is what it is and nothing more but for a film of this type that's all it should be and that's all it tries to be.

For this reason and this reason only I gave this film 9/10 for they achieved what they set out to achieve

23 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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