Rules Don’t Apply
Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich play two employees of Howard Hughes who fall for each other despite their romance being forbidden by their boss.
Billionaire film producer Howard Hughes is clearly still a person of interest to many, even after his death in 1976, and his eccentric characteristics have been injected into everything from video game BioShock to being played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorcese's 2004 movie The Aviator.
The latest effort paying homage to Hughes is Rules Don’t Apply, helmed by veteran director and Oscar-ruiner Warren Beatty, who also steps into the shoes of the late entrepreneur.
While his performance isn’t half bad, the same can’t be said for the film itself.
Set in the glamorous years of 'Old Hollywood', the story begins with Hughes hiding behind a curtain as journalists await confirmation on whether his mental health is really deteriorating – as claimed by an author set to publish a tell-all book on him.
We then flash back several years to 1958 and we meet young driver to the stars Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), who works for Mr Hughes but has yet to meet him, so relies on his colleague Levar Mathis (Matthew Broderick) to show him the ropes.
There’s one important rule which the drivers must follow above all else: do NOT get involved with the actresses on Hughes' payroll - something which Frank finds difficult to abide by when he meets aspiring star Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins).
Lo and behold, Marla and Frank develop feelings for each other, but little do they truly know the other’s true commitments to Hughes himself.
The entrepreneur quickly calls upon his young new driver for almost every task at hand - including assignments as varied as ordering him banana nut ice cream, and looking after his business deals - while Marla has a pivotal part in Hughes maintaining control of his reputation and his sense of youthfulness.
But the two tales running parallel to one another don’t mesh well, and with little chemistry between Collins and Ehrenreich, it’s hard to care about their characters and their ‘doomed’ relationship; when you watch them argue for no reason it’s hard to feel sad or heartbroken for them as there is no build up or real bond felt, which makes the film a dull, confusing watch with no real heart.
Hughes’ struggle doesn’t really pull you in either – while everyone knows about his condition towards the end of his life, this film turns it into somewhat of a joke, and not a funny one either.
Broderick offers little to the plot, as does Annette Bening as Marla’s religious mother - so what you’re left with is a bunch of talented actors awkwardly interacting with each other in front of the camera.
It could be argued the title is fitting though; the rules of making an interesting and engaging feature certainly don’t apply here.
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