The Rules Don't Apply to Anyone!
From the trailers you might think that
Rules Don’t Apply is a classic Hollywood romance. But it isn’t. You might think
that it is a biopic of Howard Hughes. But it’s not that either. Rules Don’t Apply
is both of these rolled into one, with more than a touch of autobiography on
the part of writer / producer / director / lead actor, Warren Beatty, who is
thoroughly enjoying himself as an increasingly crazy Howard Hughes.
The title can be applied to each of the
many layers of this fascinating film. The rules don’t apply to the lead
actress, Lilly (daughter of drummer Phil) Collins, as she breaks the mould of
stereotype, airhead, blondie-boobie Hollywood starlet. She has a mind of her
own, and she’s not afraid to speak it, even to the mighty Howard Hughes. The
rules of their strict religious upbringing don’t apply to her relationship with
Alden (“would that it t’were so simple”) Ehrenreich, as they fumble through
their prohibited romance.
The rules certainly don’t apply to Beatty’s
Howard Hughes who, with echoes of Donald Trump that I just couldn’t shake all
film, clearly sees himself as above and beyond the reach of any jurisdiction or
accepted standards of behaviour.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the rules
don’t apply to the film itself. It bucks convention by refusing to let either
of its two storylines dominate, or even fully develop. Unlike the similar
two-ambitious-kids-come-to-Hollywood storyline of La La Land, neither seems to
achieve the success they came for. What’s more, much like in real life, Howard
Hughes is kept in the shadows and behind the curtain, rather than being fully
explored in typical biopic style.
Yet despite this ambiguity, or perhaps
because of it, Rules Don’t Apply is a film that stays with you and grows in
your mind for days after you first see it. You can’t help wondering how much of
the autobiographical feel of Warren Beatty was deliberate. After all,
Ehrenreich’s young buck arrives in Hollywood in exactly the same year that
Beatty originally did, and from a similar background. What’s more, Howard
Hughes enjoyed a level of power and control in Hollywood that Beatty himself
currently enjoys today.
Biopic, autobiography or plain old 50’s
Hollywood romance, Rules Don’t Apply can be whichever one you choose to see. But
to really appreciate this film, maybe you need to be prepared to see them all