Romance Novel Thinking
Alex & Emma
Review by Ross Anthony

Alex is a writer in debt. Basically, he will be killed if he doesn't finish his novel in 30 days. Enter, Emma, a stenographer he tricks into taking dictation toward that goal.

The first twenty minutes of this movie struggle to contain anything amusing. I fleetingly entertain the thought of getting up to leave, but then resign myself to two hours of cliché in word and physical comedy so painfully foreshadowed by the old rake-to-the-forehead routine which ends the title credit animation.

To my surprise, the film picks up once Alex gets to writing. His fluff romance novel is put to screen, set in the 1920's. Not terribly exciting, but amusing nonetheless -- enough to make me not regret not leaving.

In fact, some of the play between Alex & Emma writing and the visual revisions that redrafting cause on screen is indeed, well, cute. And to be fair, I laugh out loud once. Maybe twice. The film definitely perks up to a B. But, then when given the opportunity to end in a brave fresh way, it opts for a first cute/clever then ultimately rote and fluff out.

Wouldn't it have been interesting to end the film at that brief moment of fade to black? Or how about just as Reiner closes the door "Zach Taylor will be right with you." (It's the least they could have done.)

BTW, "Alex & Emma" is loosely based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's short novel "The Gambler."

  • Alex & Emma. Copyright © 2003.
  • Starring Kate Hudson, Luke Wilson, Sophie Marceau,David Paymer, Rob Reiner, Fancois Giroday LoboSebastian, ChinoXL.
  • Directed by Rob Reiner.
  • Written by Jeremy Leven.
  • Produced by Rob Reiner Jeremy leven, Alan Greisman, Tdd Black, Elie Samaha @Franchise/Escape Artists.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:21:07 PDT