Rules Don’t Apply – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Warren Beatty
Writers: Warren Beatty (screenplay), Warren Beatty (story by)
Stars: Lily Collins, Haley Bennett, Taissa Farmiga
Howard Hughes, a twentieth century member of that rarefied species of men of obscene wealth and megalomaniac tendencies, was in his latter years bizarre. He had become such an excessive recluse that he made himself invisible to even his closest business confidante and his precise whereabouts was kept a tightly guarded secret. He controlled vast hunks of the aviation and entertainment industries. Among his little foibles was to retain a bevy of hopeful young actresses in Hollywood whom he plied with fancy allowances, drivers and smart accommodation. But progressing their careers as actresses was always placed on the long finger. Into this milieu an innocent actress arrives in the form of Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) accompanied by her no-nonsense mother Lucy Mabrey (Annette Benning). They are met in Los Angeles by a Hughes dedicated driver Frank (Alden Ehrenreich) and it is quite early established that all three of them are God- fearing, Christian true believers, where sex outside marriage is not on the radar.
Hughes is played by Warren Beatty who also wrote the screen play, co-wrote the story and directs the film. Even though Hughes does not appear to his closest adviser, he obviously must appear in the film as otherwise Warren Beatty would not have a part to play. After a certain amount of messing about, Lucy and he have some creepy meetings. Meanwhile Frank, as Lucy’s dedicated driver is not permitted to have any connection with her other than to ferry her around. Needless to say Frank is a fine normal heterosexual guy, notwithstanding his restrictive religious beliefs. Eventually he has a splendid romantic tussle with Lucy which was interrupted. Nothing completely improper had taken place but a prominent, clearly visible, damp patch appears on the front of his trousers in the vicinity of his crotch. Frank has to attempt to hide this tell-tale sign of his masculinity so as to save his job… and so the story continues in its sexually repressed way. The only person with a sensible part is Annette Benning who is splendid in fighting for the rights of her daughter against the mercurial Howard Hughes.
There may well be a film to be made which reveals the driving force or forces that lead Howard Hughes to become the enigma that he became. However Warren Beatty, in his many roles in Rules Don’t Apply, did not stumble upon any of them. Perhaps they are incapable of discernment but it makes for a movie of little substance.