Rules Don't Apply movie poster
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Rules Don't Apply
Rules Don't Apply movie poster

Rules Don't Apply Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Warren Beatty takes the title of his new movie Rules Don’t Apply to heart, opting to discard his conventional but satisfying romantic comedy storyline for an odd exploration of Howard Hughes’ late mental state halfway through. To mixed results.

Rules Don’t Apply is Beatty’s first feature in 15+ years, but you have to go back to the early 1990’s for anything worth remembering. Beatty hasn’t lost a beat, however, as he sizzles both behind and in front of the camera.

Beatty, who plays an elderly, eccentric and mentally unstable Hughes, obviously is having a lot of fun playing a character with no boundaries. His performance is quirky and deliberately so. Interestingly, he doesn’t even appear in the movie until about halfway through the movie—and the first half is significantly more entertaining than the second.

The best parts of Rules Don’t Apply belong to Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins, and the scenes the two share together. Beatty the director sets up the movie as a blossoming romance between a young, religious actress brought to Hollywood by Hughes and her young, slightly less religious driver. Both Ehrenreich and Collins are excellent and their chemistry with one another is electric.

While some critics may prefer the weird character study—if you can call it that—that ensues in the second half, it’s extremely disappointing when Beatty tears the two “main” characters apart so he can become the star. Collins all but disappears from the film and Ehrenreich’s character becomes uninteresting. Beatty tries to wrap things up with a tidy bow at the end, but the damage is done.

Rules Don’t Apply features an energetic story, strong performances and solid direction, but while the film’s second half offers several great moments, it feels like an unfocused, inferior product compared to what Beatty the director delivers early on.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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