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It's Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey, under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes, arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver Frank Forbes, who is engaged to be married to his seventh grade sweetheart and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes' number one rule: No employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress. Hughes' behavior intersects with Marla and Frank in very separate and unexpected ways, and as they are drawn deeper into his bizarre world, their values are challenged and their lives are changed.
Rules Don't Apply movie full length review - Rules Don't Apply
Warren Beatty, who I consider to be a true Hollywood legend and quite an icon, has always impressed me with his body of work. I have always admired him as an actor and maybe even more so as a writer/director.
As many of you know, he has not directed a film since 1998's Bulworth and not acted in a film since Town and Country in 2001. Over the years there was always some talk about Beatty perhaps making a comeback film and emerge from the shadows and quietness of what at the time seemed to be almost like a retirement from the movie business for him. It had been speculated for years that he was planning on doing a film about Howard Hughes, and not only till a few years ago was the project actually green-lighted and news was that they had a cast and that Beatty would not only be starring in the film, but also having written the screenplay and was going to serve as director. This was very promising news to a fan like me because unfortunately I had never been able to see one of his films on the big screen, so I was hoping this one would be my first. The first trailer for the film emerged during the Summertime when you had your big budget films on display and while the trailer looked a little different than what Beatty has done before, I still felt that it looked like a film with promise and I was bound and determined to see it on the big screen when it arrived. Now as I am writing this, I have just come from a screening for his new film, Rules Don't Apply, and I must say that I was anticipating a light screwball comedy that would be more fun than anything else, but what I got was a film that will definitely be in my top 10 list by the end of the year and was another film that far exceeded all my expectations and turned out to be one of the year's best. The film's trailer truly did not do it justice and unfortunately a lot of the mainstream film critics are giving it average to mostly lukewarm ratings, which if I have to be honest, I don't truly understand and perhaps they saw a different film than I did. The other unfortunate thing is that Rules Don't Apply, is flopping at the box office and is going to lose the studio a lot of money much like Town and Country did back in 2001, which is why I initially thought that Beatty had retired from movies. Do not let any of this deter you whatsoever from seeing this great film though. I simply say this more as unfortunate news and to further add to the argument that what is popular and does well at the box office these days has no accounting for any artistic merit and what are sometimes fantastic films will unfortunately flop and not connect, or appeal to today's audiences. I think that alone is one of the key elements why this film is not doing well, simply because a millennial audience, who in a lot of ways controls what is big and what does well at the box office would simply not be able to connect with this film on any level. Many of those viewers would not know who Howard Hughes is, or really care for that matter and for a lot of them they unfortunately have probably never heard of Warren Beatty, or seen any of his films either. Also a period piece film that is far more intelligent than what the trailer would seem, would simply not appeal and go far beyond this audience's limited and sometimes unfortunately dull attention span. Luckily for anyone else who loves a good film, you are in for a real treat here. Beatty is back in full force delivering a brilliant performance that at times includes elements of a comedic nature, but also in a way he slyly pokes fun at Hughes and even his own past reputation as a playboy who was promiscuous and not altogether with what was going on. Beatty's Hughes is a man who clearly has done some very admirable things for his shareholders and business people, but as a man his values and what he stands for are not very reputable and also in some ways it could be argued that he may have early dementia, or something that is causing him to act and behave very strangely. The Howard Hughes story is interesting enough on it's own, but also as a bonus we are given a story just as interesting about two young people who are trying to make it in Hollywood, and how in a sense their personal beliefs, values and everything they stand for is ruined not only because of the Hollywood system, but also because of people like Hughes himself. The film has many laughs, but in an interesting contrast it also has darker elements that all balance out and work beautifully for the film. The film is far beyond entertaining and it also adds a fair bit of food for thought about one's actions and the role models and goals that we have and the things that can unfortunately cloud, or pollute them. This is the best ensemble cast performance I have seen this year and everybody is absolutely fantastic. Also the attention to details, costumes, makeup, music and the script and direction by Beatty is all top notch and among the year's best. I hope this does signal a comeback for Beatty because here he proves he still has so much talent to offer and I hope this will not be his last film, but many more will follow. One of the year's absolute best and a very misunderstood film.