When I first saw the trailer for Rules Don’t Apply I thought it looked like a film I’d enjoy.
A comedy about the Golden Years of Hollywood in the vein of Hail, Caesar! looked capable of delivering some solid laughs in a slightly bonkers tale about eccentric mogul Howard Hughes.
As reviews started to emerge citing the film as one of director Warren Beatty‘s less remarkable efforts, and the poor box office performance signalled that there was not much on offer, I went to see this at the Palace Norton with trepidation.
Not familiar with Beatty’s work, and with just The Aviator for reference regarding the peculiar billionaire Howard Hughes, I was not sure what to expect.
One thing is for sure – when your expectations are lowered, the scope to be pleasantly surprised increases exponentially.
Nominated for a Golden Globe in the role of virgin Hollywood newcomer Marla Mabrey, Lily Collins anchors the film (much like the way her Dad Phil behind the drums is the linchpin for epic songs) with an ingenious, and ingenue, turn as a deeply religious young woman from the sticks, invited to Los Angeles to audition for a film role that may or may not exist.
Upon touching down in LA accompanied by her mother (Annette Bening as) Lucy Mabrey, the pair meet their driver (Alden Ehrenreich as) Frank Forbes, a handsome young man, also from the country with big plans of his own.
The trio are united in their Christian faith, and in their bemusement at the fact that as the days go by none of them are any closer to meeting the illusive man funding their lives – Howard Hughes. (Warren Beatty).
At times I felt like I was eating a box of chocolates blindfolded, as each scene would introduce new characters who (aside from relative newcomers Collins and Ehrenreich) are all played by some of my favourite faces.
Hughes’ most trusted advisor Noah Dietrich (Martin Sheen) and Oliver Platt as Mr. Forester, a banker with a deal to make with the tycoon, never share a scene, but their West Wing pedigree is indicative of the fact that this film is a production by actors for actors.
Undoubtedly Beatty has demonstrated his ability to guide his cast to great heights throughout his illustrious and lengthy career, and Rules Don’t Apply offers a mighty high quality of performances including Matthew Broderick as Levar Mathis, a senior driver, Alec Baldwin as Robert Maheu, incoming CEO of Hughes company, Jennifer Lawrence doppelgänger Haley Bennett as Mamie Murphy a streetwise starlet and Candice Bergen as Nadine Henly, the secretary who sees all and knows everybody’s secrets in the Hughes operation.
Indisputably an eccentric character, Beatty imbues Hughes with a restrained mania, repeating phrases over and over as he struggles to relate to others on an intimate level. But when he does connect, these are the moments for the charcters to remember for all time.
I am a solid believer that without individuals who break the mould, we would be nowhere as a race of creatures.
From Einstein to Walt Disney to Steve Jobs, human beings need minds that experience the world differently, and Howard Hughes had his own unique ride, one that I would like to learn more about.
The film opens with a quote about the investigation of facts (or not), and this story blends fact and fiction to deliver a hugely entertaining and completely bonkers two hour tour of the Golden Years of Hollywood.
3 & 1/2 Stars “A Tremendous Cast Deliver Stellar Performances”