RULES DON’T AP­PLY (M)

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DIREC­TOR: WAR­REN BEATTY (REDS)

STAR­RING: WAR­REN BEATTY, LILY COLLINS, ALDEN EHRENREICH, AN­NETTE BENING, MATTHEW BROD­ER­ICK, CANDICE BER­GEN

RAT­ING: ★★★

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.

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