Rules Don’t ApplyCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Rules Don’t Apply is the richly detailed story of the love between two individuals kept apart and brought together by the eccentric character of famous real-life businessman and film producer Howard Hughes. It is Warren Beatty’s latest epic and of course he himself stars as the wealthy and somewhat insane protagonist.
The screenplay begins at the end, as in almost any self-respecting biographical drama – the financial bigwig hides from the world as everyone waits for him to address accusations of madness – and then covers the last five years of Hughes’s life through the lenses of Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), his driver turned right-hand man.
This sweet and moving movie builds a thorough and believable picture of leading lady Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), a charming Baptist girl who has come to LA to pursue an acting career thanks to Hughes, who notoriously sponsored many young actresses. She has to put up with all sorts of chauvinistic hassle and only Frank, also employed by their mutual friend and oppressor, strikes a chord with the plucky lass as they embark upon a most predictable of illegitimate romances: Hughes prohibits any contact between his employees and his actresses, and the adversity drives the two of them mad with desire in spite of their (gradually waning) devout Christianity.
Meanwhile, the billionaire and his pioneering aviation company, TWA, take up half of the film as he jumps through hoops and bends over backwards to avoid contact with the outside world, so that nobody will take his father’s company away from him as his mental illness progresses and makes him less able to run the operation.
Using a fascinating true story as his outline, Beatty has brought to life some vivid characters that give his story structure and a raison d’être. After a lengthy and visually enchanting emotional build-up, and given very adverse circumstances, Frank and Marla split up before anything of consequence can happen between them and give way to the rich old man himself and his story. The two plotlines are juggled smoothly and aside from some odd chronological jumps and occasional sloppiness, Beatty’s latest is a classically composed contemporary drama set in the visually stunning 60s.
Self-evident scenes of longing glances between the two main characters are made compelling by the actors’ flawless performances. Their odd love triangle with the boss swings round drastically throughout the movie, just like Hughes’s flamboyant moods – Frank goes from enthusiasm to exasperation in a heartbeat, and the understandably traumatised Marla falls into a weeping rage like there’s no tomorrow.
Drama and romance aside, Rules Don’t Apply falls under the Comedy category as well. Comedic highlights range from Forbes’s explosive premature ejaculation after Marla’s tender rendition of her song at the piano loosens their Christian morals, to a bemused and effortlessly funny Steve Coogan in the cockpit of the deranged Hughes’s jet plane.
Beatty’s adventurous effort is a playful but nevertheless serious bit of directing and though the film drags on at times, a sense of humour and well developed characters manage to maintain interest throughout its runtime.
Rules Don’t Apply is released nationwide on 21st April 2017.
Watch the trailer for Rules Don’t Apply here: