"Alex & Emma" is actually a remake of the 1997 UK-Hungarian film 'The Gambler' starring Michael Gambon and Johdi May. And the original is about the Russian writer Dostoevskey, and what happened to him while writing the novella of that title. You should keep this in mind, because "A & E" suffers from the wrong-headed judgment of modernizing the setting of the original which was deep in the 19th century.
The story of this romantic comedy is, simply put, "When Alex meets Emma (or vice virsa)" directed by Rob Reiner, who knows a few things about this genre. Alex (Luke Wilson) is a writer stumbled on the writer's block, and in debt. He must make money in 30 days, and to do so, he hires a stenographer Emma (Kate Hudson), and attempts to finish writing a novel.
The novel develops, thanks to the unexpected inspiration from Emma. It is about Adam, a tutor living in the 1920s, who falls in love with a French lady Polina (Sophie Marceau). From then on, we see two stories one after the other, both influencing each other.
NOW, the good thing about "A & E" is that Kate Hudson (who plays five roles in this film) is delightful to see. Luke Wilson is also good and likable, and they make a couple of man and woman who must fall in love with each other. And we know it, and welcome it.
BUT the problem is, as I said before, the setting. In the original "Gambler", Dostoevskey had to submit his rights for publishing his novels to the greedy publisher, not his life as depicted here. No one believes in the central story of "Alex & Emma" when it talks about the 30 days limit and being killed. Think about it. Some mobsters are after you, and they want the money back. However, they burn (yes, literally burn) your lap-top PC, which only prevents your scheme of returning money.
That's a too obvious and tactless device on the filmmaker's side to have Alex hire Emma. And in the original, the stenographer has no other place to go except the writer (it was the 19th century, and women's jobs were quite limited). In "Alex and Emma," though Emma needs money (she comes by bus, see?), and she knows Alex is broke because of gambling, she still decides to work for him as long as 30 days without being even paid in advance! And to make matters worse, what Alex writes is not funny at all, but still we are to believe this "story within story" is to be a hit to pay back all the debt. Sorry, but I can't believe it.
"Alex & Emma" is engaging only when it forgets its plot, which is a poor excuse for bringing the leads together. And Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson do their jobs quite nicely. Pity that the characters are empty, and the story unbelievable. "When Harry met Sally ..." are about real people. The same cannot be said about "Alex & Emma."