As usual, Warren Beatty throws himself into everything he does with great aplomb and in his latest offering “Rules Don’t Apply” he acts, directs and produces just as he has done in some of his earlier films. So in this latest release it is no different, I mean this is Beatty we are talking about.
He does a good job of sharing the spotlight in this one, however, and the entire team comes together in the film to leave one wondering was that a drama, a comedy or just entertaining. The latter wins out because it’s hard to look away once the film gets started. Beginning when a small town beauty queen and quite religious young girl named Marla Mabrey, played by Lily Collins ends up under contract to the notorious Howard Hughes in Los Angeles we see her as she moves to the City of Lights. She is all happy and rosy cheeked just as she should be when arriving. Filmgoers will love the home she is put up in LA style by Hughes too – that alone is worth watching the film.
Oh, and did I mention Beatty plays the key role of Hughes? Well, of course he does. So keep that in mind as you consider the entire plotline and where it is headed. When Mabry gets to Los Angeles she is sent a driver named Frank Forbes to accompany her around LA. The driver is played by the very talented Alden Ehrenreich. After a few winks and long stares the two fall in love. That’s a no no in the Howard Hughes rule book so nothing comes of it for years. There is also the matter of her religion and his loyalty to Hughes so all in all nothing can happen between the two lovebirds. But you can feel the sexual tension nevertheless.
Mabrey is waiting for her big role under contract with Hughes and it just never seems to materialize and then she finally meets him one night. She drinks too much champagne and they get together. What is a church going girl to do at that point? She gets pregnant, she leaves town, she raises the son and in the end she and Forbes find love. In between there is much confusion in the telling of the story, many sensitive moments and just a bit of misunderstanding to make the film more than a mere vanity piece for Beatty.
The directing is up to Beatty standards, his acting is as good as usual and he even has his wife in real life, Annette Bening play Mabrey’s mom. As usual, Bening does the kind of job we expect from her; charming and well done. For some reason though, this film does not seem to come together quite as it should. Maybe because it is too long and it can’t really be classed since it lacks the comedy, but the drama is not there either. But you will want to watch it, it’s heartfelt and that is certainly not a bad thing.
During the duration the film takes us from Hollywood to Las Vegas to Managua to Acapulco and one of the film’s main points seems to be that through it all Howard Hughes does not want anyone to think he is crazy. But we all know he is certainly no normal guy. It’s been 15 years since we saw Beatty make a movie so he was in hiding a bit like the Howard Hughes he played in “Rules Don’t Apply.” I am glad he came back with something as bold as this film, which was a passion project he couldn’t let go of for years apparently. I also enjoyed the movie’s Los Angeles landscape thanks to cinematographer Caleb Deschanel who does a good job of capturing La La Land in all its glory.
Like the man himself (Howard Hughes that is) Beatty is a legend and while it might be hard to portray the Hughes character, this 79-year-old Hollywood staple does more than an apt job in his role to create a charming film that is worth a go-see.
3 out of 5 stars