R 109min 2003
“The Sleeping Dictionary” is about a Englishman (Dancy) is sent to Sarawak to be an official in the colonial government, when faced with the local tradition of a “sleeping dictionary”. When he finds himself falling in love with his, Selima ( Alba), he is faced with the dilemma of following his duty to his country or the duty to his heart.
Taking place during the 19th century in a time when the British were trying to rule the world and setting up shop on the far corners of the globe. The tradition of a sleeping dictionary shows the British elitist political machination and it’s this elitist tradition at the heart of the conflict of this film. Which also makes this move so interesting in that it’s a fact that this probably happen.
“The Sleeping Dictionary” is a film that slipped under my radar and I’m glad that it did. Being older I understood some of the subtle of the colonial traditions better. I would have thought they were more boorish and dictatorial when I was younger.
This is a strong film addressing a British tradition and handles it that is interesting but truthful to the situation. There are many shades of gray in this film that come into play. Although I think this is a rosy outcome, it’s satisfying for the story. You truly believe they are in love and it doesn’t seem artificial, but more condensed because it is a film.
Hugh Dancy and Jessica Alba are convincing as two star-crossed lovers faced with an impossible decision.
They play off each other very well. Alba has the charm and beauty that could convince any man to forsake his country for her love. Dancy plays the dashing British officer coming to save the world of its heathenism and bring civilization to the land.
“The Sleeping Dictionary” is a great film to watch with a significant other. It’s a strong story that interesting that both men and women can appreciate. It gives a historical context to a tradition that has ramification that is still seen even in today’s social.
I give it 4/5 Gs.