Rules Don' Apply (2016)
Just like the case was with Howard Hughes himself, the rules of Hollywood has never really applied to Warren Beatty, who ever since his major financial and critical breakthrough with Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 has done things his own way and at his own pace – often to the annoyance of studio executives, directors, and co-stars. Therefore, it is quite fitting that when he now finally makes his first film in almost twenty years (after Bulworth in 1998), it is about another headstrong character who like Beatty was alternately admired and scorned by his contemporaries. There are certainly enough similarities between the two film moguls' careers to make Beatty casting himself in the lead both ideal and ironic.
The film opens with a young aspiring actress' (Lily Collins) arriving in Hollywood looking to be picked up by Hughes' company. Although not rooted in reality, the idea behind her character is fun and not at all unrealistic. Her little romance with Hughes' driver Frank (played by Alden Ehrenreich) is sweet, too. The problem is just that the twisted love triangle which Beatty tries to create and construct his film around never serves in the film's best interest. To put it short, Rules Don't Apply never seems to agree with itself whether it is a film about the ageing Howard Hughes with a little subplot about a young starlet, or a film about two young lovers with a little subplot about the ageing Howard Hughes. Knowing Beatty, there are two possible explanations here: Either he wanted to make the latter film, but became hung up with himself (again) during the process. Or he wanted to make the former film, but became hung up with the possibility of being a young beauty's leading man one last time.
Still, if you're willing to accept the film's sometimes outrageous premises, which to its defense probably will be a prerequisite for any film about Howard Hughes, Beatty still boasts impeccable comedic timing and has written some beautiul, funny scenes for himself and the wonderful Lily Collins. There's enough interesting material in Rules Don't Apply to fill two regular romantic comedies coming out of Hollywood, and for that it should be hailed or at least watched by a lot more people than did during its theatrical run. Acting aficionados will also have several fine supporting performances to enjoy, including from Matthew Broderick and, of course, Annette Bening.