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 »
Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.
In November 1958, the American teenager Katey Miller moves with her parents and her younger sister to Havana. Her father is an executive of Ford expatriated to Cuba, and Katey is an ... See full summary »
Nelson is a man devoted to his advertising career in San Francisco. One day, while taking a driving test at the DMV, he meets Sara. She is very different from the other women in his life. ... See full summary »
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
The film used more than 600 Iban extras. 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 »
[after a bad day]
Sorry about this afternoon. I should've stopped her sooner. Selima... you had other lovers before me, didn't you? Did you and they have what we have?
Yes. They were men like you.
[He is a little surprised]
I thought we had something special.
No. We fuck. That's all.
[She gets up and walks out of the room, and he goes after her]
Wait! You're angry. You're not telling the truth.
I'm angry! That's why I'm telling the truth! Half my blood is English. That is more that your king and ...
[...] See more »
The puzzle is, why did this film go directly to video and why isn't it a better film?
Fineline apparently relegated this to the video bins because of a crowded release schedule, but more likely because it had just one American star in it, Jessica Alba, and her TV series, "Dark Angel," had been canceled, meaning she no longer brought any "heat" to the project.
That's a shame, because this film is light years better than most direct to video releases.
While the plot is quite complicated, it is basically about a young Englishman, played by Hugh Dancey, who goes out to Sawawak (Borneo) in the mid-thirties to follow in his father's footsteps and bring the benefits of a good English education to the natives and headhunters of the region.
He needs to pick up the language, though, and thus is assigned a "sleeping dictionary" a fetching young local woman who will teach him the native lingo, while giving him an education in bed at the same time. While that may sound as contrived a plot as you could find, it is probably grounded in fact, and certainly grounded in solid, British upper class hypocrisy of that day, which, taking into account the fact that he'll be there for three years, sees no reason why he can't avail himself of the local talent to satisfy his sexual needs. In fact, when he initially rejects the beautiful Jessica Alba, they offer him a young man, he being the product of British boys schools and all that.
After a very brief period of conflict, Dancey and Alba fall head over heels for each other, decide they want to marry, and find themselves in hot water from that point on. The film goes on to rightfully bash British upper class racial prejudice, but never quite deals with the key issue facing Dancey's character. Does he ever catch on that the education he wanted to bring to the natives is the same education that says, one Englishman is worth a thousand natives?
Anyway, the film, written and directed by Guy Jenkin, is fairly well scripted, well directed and absolutely beautifully shot. Word is, it cost just $15 million, but it has the look of a much more expensive picture, definitely not some cut rate direct to video thriller. This is not some prison women in cages film shot in the Philippines.
There are some good characterizations here. Bob Hoskins starts out very strong as the cynical governor of this province, but then is very under utilized. Brenda Blethyn is fantasic as Hoskins wife, a manipulative upper class snob who is the real villain of the story.
But there are script problems here. Dancey and Alba fall in love far too quickly, skipping over a lot of character build up which would have made us care for them a lot more than we wind up doing. There is sympathy for them, though, because of the obvious class and racial biases in the British empire. But you get the feeling there are a lot of missed opportunities here.
Perhaps the biggest flaw the film has are its two stars, though. Dancey,pretty much unknown in America, seems only adequate to me. He brings no real passion to the role of the young idealist.
The real enigma, of course, is Jessica Alba. Although as beautiful as any young actress in Hollywood today, she has yet to prove that she can actually act, and with every successive missed opportunity, she is building up a body of work that says maybe she can't. Her first feature staring role was in a flic called "Paranoid," in which she was frankly just plain dreadful. She has had supporting roles in a couple of other films, but the pictures were so dreadful you couldn't hang much of the blame on her, except maybe in her choice of roles. Her big break came in the James Cameron produced TV series "Dark Angel," which got its wings clipped after two seasons. In it, Abla was forced to play a rather depressing character in a depressing show and she could not get deep enough into it to make it the kind of hit that Jennifer Garner became in "Alias."
In Sleeping Dictionary, Alba definitely looks like someone any man would want to sleep with, but other than that seems in many ways miscast completely. I read one review here that mistakenly places this movie in South America. I wonder if the producers made the same mistake. The days when any dark skinned actress can play any dark skinned character, from Latino to Asian to Arabic, appear to be over to me. Alba didn't seem like a resident of Borneo. She in many ways seemed like a wise ass girl from East Los Angeles.
Then there's the main problem, her delivery of lines. Alba is excellent when she keeps her mouth shut. No, really, she does reaction shots extremely well. Her emotions play out beautifully on her face. It's when she has to talk that she often finds herself in trouble. In this film, much of her delivery of her lines was just short of bad.
More importantly, it wasn't good and that makes this film another big missed chance for Jessica Alba. It's too bad, because she was in part hampered by an under developed character, which may have been hampered by a restricted budget. Ten more minutes showing us who the main characters really were might have made all the difference in this film. But Alba still would have had to be good enough to handle the added material and I still don't know if she is.
She supposedly has another film in the works in which she plays some kind of hiphop dancer. Hopefully, at least playing the right race, she'll shine. But she just misses the mark for me in "Sleeping Dictionary" as she has missed it in everything she's done since "Flipper."
31 of 45 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?