‘Rules Don’t Apply’ Review: Warren Beatty’s Secretive Howard Hughes Biopic Defies Expectations

‘Rules Don’t Apply’ Review: Warren Beatty’s Secretive Howard Hughes Biopic Defies Expectations
Remove Warren Beatty from the equation and expectations of “Rules Don’t Apply” — which he wrote, directed and stars in — would fit the outcome. A sweet, old-fashioned Hollywood romance that just so happens to involve Howard Hughes as a supporting character, Beatty’s long-gestating project is a modestly enjoyable, well-acted nostalgia piece with just a touch of edge. As passion projects go, this one’s disarmingly slight in its ambitions, the opposite of Hughes’ legacy in every way.

At the same time, Beatty’s lively screenplay does a fine job of sketching out a distinct moment in Hughes’ legacy while situating more intimate drama within it. “Rules Don’t Apply” opens in 1964, on the brink of Hughes’ famous phone call to reporters on national television after years of avoiding them. From there, it flashes back six years to a very different occasion: Bright-eyed young actress Marla Collins (Lily Collins) heads
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