RULES DON’T APPLY (M)
DIRECTOR: WARREN BEATTY (REDS)
STARRING: WARREN BEATTY, LILY COLLINS, ALDEN EHRENREICH, ANNETTE BENING, MATTHEW BRODERICK, CANDICE BERGEN
WARREN Beatty was once considered to be one of the greatest triple-threat talents in showbusiness.
He could act, he could write and he could direct. He could make a movie happen through sheer force of will.
However, after his role in the recent Best Picture fiasco at the Oscars, Beatty is now in danger of being remembered as the doddering dude with dodgy reading skills.
Therefore the arrival of what could well be his final major work as a filmmaker represents a chance to save his reputation.
Unfortunately, Rules Don’t Apply is a case of too little, too late. It is by no means an average movie, but it is ultimately a forgettable one: merely a pleasing trifle of a romance.
The setting is 1958 Los Angeles, where famously eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty) is still pursuing his favourite Hollywood hobby: promising a pretty young starlet the world, but only until the next pretty young starlet comes along.
The latest ingenue to find herself in Hughes’s elliptical orbit is Marla (Lily Collins).
She has been escorted by her mother (played by Beatty’s real-life wife, Annette Bening) from the rural midwest for her appointment with fame and fortune.
Between acting lessons and surreal summit meetings with her mentor, Marla is spirited around town by Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), a young driver on the Hughes payroll.
There is an attraction between the pair, which is strictly forbidden inside the Hughes enclave. There is also a shared ambition to get ahead in life, which is covertly encouraged by the man himself. Though from a distance.
This messy, yet consistently engaging movie (reputedly a passion project for Beatty since the 1970s) does one thing very well, indeed.
From behind the camera, he is cleverly fusing simple nostalgia for the halcyon days of Hollywood with a universal tale of impressionable young people learning how to make an impression.
In this regard, the best thing about Rules Don’t Apply is the simple, innocent connection shared by Ehrenreich and Collins.
The scenes where both must allow for the elliptical stylings of Beatty as Hughes feel like an unnecessary indulgence that kills a lot of interest in this fictionalised yarn.
LILY COLLINS AND ALDEN EHRENREICH SHARE AN INNOCENT CONNECTION IN RULES DON’T APPLY.