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Alex & Emma (2003) – Movie Review

Alex & Emma Poster

Written by: Jeremy Leven, Rob Reiner, Adam Scheinman & Andy Scheinman
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Rob Reiner, David Paymer, Sophie Marceau

My Advice: Matinee.

Alex Sheldon (Wilson) is a young novelist who has failed to write anything substantial for quite some time. To make things worse, he has fallen into debt with some loan sharks, and can only satisfy them by producing a new best seller…in thirty days. To help him with his Herculean labor, Alex hires Emma Dinsmore (Hudson) to take down his hurried dictation. Together, the two struggle with writer’s block, threats from the Cuban mafia, and an unexpected romance.

The element missing most from this film is a sense of balance. The story alternates between the plot of Alex’s novel and his relationship with Emma, but the focus is so heavily placed on the fictional characters that the romance between Alex and Emma seems almost like an afterthought. Apart from the insinuated parallels between the two stories, the protagonists’ relationship receives only short moments in the spotlight, once in the middle of the film and again at the end, which is simply too late. It is difficult to suddenly start caring about what will happen to them just because the movie is almost over.

[ad#longpost]The rhythm of the film is also somewhat slow; the first thirty minutes are basically Alex reciting a dissertation on writing to a confused Emma. The dialogue is also overblown and halted, although this could be marked up as the writers’ attempt to match it with the style of Alex’s literary dialogue. However, none of these things are so terrible that they automatically make the film fall into the “bad movie” category. It is not what I’d call a waste of (matinee) money. There are a few clever lines and Hudson is amusing in the many different roles she plays. It’s also fun to look at the historical costumes and sets (the novel is set in the 1920s), although we’re definitely not talking Age of Innocence quality here. The characters aren’t despicable, but they aren’t particularly loveable either. With some funny moments and a few romantic ones as well, the film is kind of cute….but that’s about it.

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