Guest Blogger Review: Rules Don't Apply

Posted 25 April 2017 about Rules Don't Apply.

The Rules Don't Apply to Anyone!

rules1From 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 at once.

Guest Blogger: Simon Beasor

North-West based writer, copywriter & film buff, with a MA in Screenwriting from LJMU. Read more posts by Guest Blogger: Simon Beasor

Get weekly news, showing times and offers

Would you also like to receive our regular Light Arts email bulletin with news of upcoming theatre and music screenings?

We use cookies to help us provide you with a better service, but do not track anything that can be used to personally identify you. If you prefer us not to set these cookies, please visit our Cookie Settings page or continue browsing our site to accept them. Close