Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Rules Don’t Apply

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After a long break from acting and making films, Warren Beatty returns to the big screen this week with Rules Don’t Apply. The film is a nostalgic love story set in 1950’s Hollywood. Although it is centered around the larger-than-life figure of Howard Hughes, Beatty insists it is not a biopic. This well-made passion project is more about reminiscing upon a time when Warren Beatty first arrived in Hollywood than making a historical picture about the life of Howard Hughes. Rules Don’t Apply is a fun trip back to a time when Hollywood was much different than it is today.

Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) is a driver with big ideas who gets a job working for Howard Hughes with the hopes of being able to make a pitch. Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) is a Southern beauty queen who has recently moved to Hollywood thinking she will become a movie star. Their paths cross when Frank is assigned to drive Marla and her mother (Annette Bening). Mr. Hughes has a strict rule that drivers are not to date the actresses. This along with Forbes and Mabrey’s devout Christian upbringing keeps them apart for awhile, but eventually, they begin a complicated relationship.

The highlight of Rules Don’t Apply is Warren Beatty’s portrayal of Howard Hughes. It is not a perfect impression, but again this film does not pretend to be a biopic. Beatty is brilliant because you can tell he enjoys acting and he deeply cares about this project. The problem with the film is that it jumps around too much and it’s not sure what it wants to be. It suffers from an identity crisis. Is it a love story? Is it a movie about Howard Hughes? Is it a comedy? It is all these things and more. The good news is that even though the movie has a minor case of ADD, it is done well and it is a delight to watch.

There is a religious element to the film, but like many portrayals of religion in Hollywood, it does not offer any depth. The two young lovers wrestle with the morals of their faith. The film raises the issue but then does not provide any details. It seems like Frank and Marla choose a life void of religion because after the conflict arises, religion is absent throughout the rest of the story. There is one exception to this near the end of the film when Hughes asks Frank if he believes in an afterlife. Neither one of them is comfortable saying yes or no. This agnostic answer sums up how the film thinks of religion.

If you like the look and feel of movies from the 1950’s and 60’s, then Rules Don’t Apply is perfect for you. It is charming and delightful. You will laugh and enjoy your time at the movies. I had fun watching it, and I’m glad Warren Beatty is back at it again. I don’t think this movie holds up to some of his earlier works, but now he has knocked some of the rust off, maybe he won’t wait so long to do it all again.

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