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It's Hollywood, 1958. Aspiring actress, songwriter, small town beauty queen and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) has a contract with movie mogul Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) and arrives with her mother (Annette Bening) in Los Angeles to do a screen test for one of his film projects. At the airport, they meet their driver Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich). Forbes is an ambitious young man with a business plan and engaged to his 7th grade sweetheart, both deeply religious Methodists. The instant attraction that Marla and Frank feel for each other not only puts their religious convictions and moral values to the test, but also defies Hughes' #1 rule: No employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress. Hughes' enigmatic behavior intersects with Marla and Frank in separate and unexpected ways, and as they are drawn deeper into his bizarre world, their values are challenged and their lives are changed.Written by
20th Century Fox
When Frank first drives Marla and her mom, they travel east on Hollywood Boulevard, passing the Egyptian Theatre on their right. A few seconds later, the Chinese Theatre goes past on their left. They should have passed the Chinese Theatre first. See more »
The end credits contain the standard disclaimer that all characters are fictional. But Howard Hughes, as well as his aides Noah Dietrich (played by Martin Sheen) and Robert Maheu (Alec Baldwin) are real people. See more »
in brief: good for the parts that work so well, though it comes with a price
With Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply, there may be some high expectations going in, and it's not because people are looking so forward to finally seeing Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins in a (semi) romantic coupling (though they are equal parts charming and serious in this film, able to go to awkward comic moments and those Big Dramatic Confrontation Moments in ways that are wonderful and surprising and shows they have a good director at the helm).
And it's not even because people may be clamoring for another movie about the genius-cum-iconoclast-cum-megalomaniac Howard Hughes, since, well, we should have practically everything we'd need to see in Scorsese's The Aviator (which, by the way, these two movies share not only a couple of set pieces, at very different time periods in history, but Alec Baldwin too in a fairly important supporting role).
No, I know I expect more of Warren Beatty after an 18 year absence (lets forget Town & Country for now) and the biggest problem is that he had final cut and put something together that is 25% a choppily edited mess. Whether he cut down for time, I'm sure I don't know, though having *four* credited editors is never a great sign.
Having said this, however, it's also a case where the parts are better, more entertaining, more charming, more engaging, more... just MORE than the whole, and one of Beattys underrated gifts as an actor and director - off kilter comic timing and eccentricity - is on excellent display here. It's a genuine if somewhat flawed and all over the place romantic comedy with some genuinely moving overtones for being essentially about... Being kind to people.
If this is his swan song, it could've been worse.
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