Alex & Emma (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  20 June 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 11,160 users   Metascore: 32/100
Reviews: 105 user | 72 critic | 35 from

A writer must turn out a novel in thirty days or face the wrath of loan sharks.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony / Flamenco Dancer #2 (as Chino XL)
Bobby / Flamenco Dancer #1
Emma Dinsmore / Ylva / Elsa / Eldora / Anna
Whistling John Shaw
Alexander Wauthier ...
Andre Delacroix
Leili Kramer ...
Michele Delacroix
Polina's Father
Madame Blanche
François Giroday ...
Bus Driver


A romantic comedy: Alex is an author whose writer's block and gambling debts have landed him in a jam. In order get loan sharks off his back, he must finish his novel in 30 days or wind up dead. To help him complete his manuscript he hires stenographer Emma. As Alex begins to dictate his tale of a romantic love triangle to the charming yet somewhat opinionated stenographer, Emma challenges his ideas at every turn. Her unsolicited yet intriguing input begins to inadvertently influence Alex and his story and soon real life begins to imitate art. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Is it love... or are they just imagining things?


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

20 June 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Loosely Based on a True Love Story  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,111,074 (USA) (20 June 2003)


$215,481 (South Africa) (3 October 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Despite what Emma believes, Ylva *is* a Swedish name. See more »


In the restaurant, the pepper on Emma's fork goes from a straight piece to one with a curly end and then back to the straight piece again. See more »


Emma Dinsmore: I can't figure out what's worse, having to know every single detail of your desperate love for some other woman, or having to know that you obviously didn't even come close to feeling the same way about me.
See more »


References Charade (1963) See more »


Written by James P. Johnson and Cecil Mack
Performed by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label, a unit of BMG Music
Under license from BMG Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

When Alex Met Emma...
14 November 2003 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

I will admit that I went into "Alex & Emma" with great hesitation, but came out with a renewed feeling of surprisement. Here's a film that got bad word of mouth from press screenings and essentially flopped -- but I enjoyed it. It's not as clever a contrast between the sexes as "When Harry Met Sally...," and it's not quite as fun as "Sleepless in Seattle." But, for all it's worth, I consider one of the better romantic comedies of 2003.

Luke Wilson is Alex, a genius writer living in a crusty apartment in Manhattan. He has thirty days to write a full-length work of fiction and turn it into his publisher for over one hundred grand, otherwise the Cuban Mafia is going to hunt him down and kill him. Why? He owes them 100,000 dollars of his income.

Kate Hudson is Emma, a stenographer hired by Alex to transcribe his words onto paper, since his laptop was smashed up by the Cubans. She begins the job with hesitation and offers helpful advice from a reader's perspective throughout the process.

Meanwhile, we get a story-within-a-story when the film moves from Alex's world to Adam's, the subject of Alex's novel. Adam (Wilson) is heading to the fictional island of St. Charles, located near Maine. I missed why he was coming in the first place because I have a short attention span, but it had something to do with collecting a payment.

When he arrives, he meets a beautiful French woman (Sophie Marceau) and the man who wants to marry her (David Paymer). The only problem is that he finds himself falling for her, too. And the woman's servant, Ylsa, or Illsa, or...I forget, they kept changing her name, from Swedish to German to Latino to American. I don't remember who she finally turned out to be. Let's just say Ylsa ("spelled the way it sounds," Alex says), also played by Kate Hudson.

Life parallels fiction. Of course, I guessed the "surprise" twist of it all about a mile away. But that didn't matter, because this is a pretty funny movie. There are some great one-liners and little gags, especially for writers. It spoofs the process of it all. Of course, if you view the movie with a critical eye you'll find many flaws. (Roger Ebert pointed out that Alex, when dictating, never seems to pause to find words and never messes up sentences, but's a movie, how interesting would it be if he just kept starting his sentences over and over?)

But some of the jokes are very funny. For example, during his writing process, Emma interrupts to tell Alex that the name "Ylsa" is not spelled the way it sounds. He says it is. She says it would be, "Ilsa." He disagrees. So in his book, he makes the character Adam ask how it is spelled, and he has Ylsa, respond, "Y-l-s-a, spelled just how it sounds."

Rob Reiner takes a small role as Alex's publisher. When writing out his check to Alex he says, "Now, is it made out to Cuban Mafia or The Cuban Mafia?" I love this stuff. Reiner has directed some great films in his past ("This is Spinal Tap," "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," "A Few Good Men," am I missing any?). He has directed another winner.

I really don't understand this film's negative reviews. Okay, so it isn't the most original film to come along in years, but what film is?Compared to so many other "romantic comedies," this one made me laugh. A lot more than I thought I would. After starting to grow weary of Luke Wilson after seeing his smug role in "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde," I was surprised by his turn here. He's getting back to his roots. Kate Hudson (daughter of Goldie Hawn) has yet to really surprise me in any way, but she's not too bad.

When I occasionally enjoy a movie that got bad reviews, I can usually see why the movie got them. Here, on the other hand, I can not really see what the problem is. It's got a simple premise, a cute story, engaging leads, and an interesting story with more than a handful of laughs. I laughed less at last year's "The Hot Chick" and that was considered a comedy. So is this a bad movie? No, I don't think so. Not at all. But, apparently, many people do. It's too bad.

Note: There's a direct reference to "When Harry Met Sally..." in this film. Emma says she always turns to the last page of a book before she reads it. If you recall, Billy Crystal said the same thing one time back in 1989.

3/4 stars -

John Ulmer

29 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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