I had been looking forward to Rules Don’t Apply because I love films about classic Hollywood and I’m a fan of Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich so imagine when I finally saw it and discovered it was a confused and boring film that doesn’t know what it’s trying to be.
Collins plays Marla Mabrey, an actress who has been hired by Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) and bought out to live in Los Angeles, where she lives in one of his rented homes and waits to be cast in a movie. She has a connection with her driver Frank (Ehrenreich) and they develop romantic feelings for each other, which is forbidden.
I thought it was going to be a simple love story set in Hollywood and the first half of the film seemed to be heading in that direction until it becomes more about Hughes, his deteriorating mental state, his elusiveness and ever-changing demands. Annoyingly, I found that story interesting too but it’s like they were two separate films or should have been – the romance distracted from the character drama and vice versa – and by the time we return to the romance towards the end, you just don’t care anymore.
Beatty was good as Hughes but I obviously couldn’t help but compare him to Leonardo DiCaprio, who played him in The Aviator and did a fine job of it. Beatty was a different Hughes and not bad, though I couldn’t help but think he’d taken too much on serving as director, producer and co-writer. Collins looked fantastic and was very likable, same for Ehrenreich, but they are both failed by the script which is extremely inconsistent and doesn’t give them many opportunities to shine.
This is a shame. I had high hopes for it but it was too dull and slow-moving, it didn’t know what it wanted to be and the characters were lost in the process and just didn’t care about any of them. Sad.