Rules Don’t Apply
dir-scr Warren Beatty
prd Warren Beatty, Arnon Milchan, Brett Ratner, James Packer
with Warren Beatty, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Oliver Platt, Steve Coogan, Taissa Farmiga
release US 23.Nov.16, UK 27.Jan.17
16/US Regency 2h06
Rules Don't Apply
Driving Miss Marla: Collins and Ehrenreich

beatty bening broderick
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Rules Don't Apply There are two enjoyable films battling for attention here: a lovely Hollywood romance and a jaunty biopic about a turbulent period in Howard Hughes' life. These two stories intertwine but feel oddly disconnected, which makes the tonal shifts between comedy, romance, drama and slapstick feel rather jarring. Still, it's sharply well-made, with entertaining performances from a sprawling all-star cast.

In the late 1950s, billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty) was bringing aspiring starlets to Hollywood by the dozen, seeking actresses for his movies. One of these is Marla (Collins), arriving with her protective mother Lucy (Bening), who wonders why no one seems to have met Hughes. Marla's driver is Frank (Ehrenreich), and they find a spark of friendship and perhaps something more, which is of course forbidden. Both of them also have encounters with Hughes that change the course of their lives. But this pulls them apart, creating major obstacles to their growing romance.

The film initially focusses on Marla and Frank, which cleverly uses the religiosity of American society to add a variety of wrinkles. Collins and Ehrenreich engagingly build some sly chemistry through glances and hesitant conversations. Then after remaining in the shadows for the film's opening section, Beatty's Hughes makes his appearance and never stops trying to steal every scene. Beatty exudes charisma, capturing a terrific mix of vanity, paranoia and intelligence.

Both stories are fascinating as they jostle for position. Hughes' adventures include suddenly moving to Vegas, Nicaragua and London, taking a wacky joyride in a DC-3 with a startled RAF pilot (Coogan), impulsively replacing his CEO (Baldwin for Sheen) and refusing to meet pretty much anyone face to face. Through all of this, Frank works his way into Hughes' inner circle, along with fellow driver Levar (Broderick). And Marla emerges from the sea of starlets to grab Hughes' eye.

Beatty shoots this with eye-catching style, recreating the period in clever ways while maintaining a rapid-fire pace. Scenes shift between serious and comical, reflecting the absurdities of Hughes' lifestyle and the perilous fallout he creates in business and politics by refusing to follow the rules. And the title also refers to how Marla and Frank violate regulations meant to keep them in line, overtly echoed in Marla's eponymous song. In other words, this is a finely made collection of zippy plot threads, energetic characters and true-life situations. And for most of the movie, we're not quite sure where to look.

cert 12 themes, language, some sexuality 11.Nov.16

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