For Reel

Rules Don’t Apply (2016)
December 31, 2016, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Warren Beatty
3 Stars
rules-dont-applyIn the final act of Rules Don’t Apply, Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes is revealed behind a grand velvet bed curtain. It is an image that at once reveals Hughes’ inherent vulnerabilities—that is, the scene involves a nakedness in unveiling the “man behind the curtain”—and seems to cement his legacy, furthering the film’s fascination with the Hughes legend. Rules Don’t Apply teeters on similar contradictions throughout, often turning sour when one expects things to maintain their levity. In the service of a screwball farce, Lily Collins’ Marla Mabrey becomes downright cruel to long-suffering Hughes driver Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), a manifestation of her self-hatred and guilt but delivered with such a bile that the film’s sentimental streak is all but extinguished. If the film is a half-dozen good ideas that struggle to co-exist, however, its very erratic tones mimic Beatty’s portrayal of Hughes, driven by wild impulses and doubling back on his obsessions before pursuing them in full again. For a film about mythos (the film is more about the perception of Hughes than Hughes himself), Beatty’s interpretation feels touchingly honest in the way it suggests that people abandon their best interests at the mercy of their whims.