Rules Don't Apply
The biggest problem with watching this film is tht the main
character is a boorish, selfish, reclusive, self-involved, demented,
paranoid, sleazy, egomaniac. That
makes him a little hard to like.
It's Hollywood in the 1950's.
Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) loves to bring out small-town
beauty queens for “screen tests,” which are really flimsy excuses
for seduction on the infamous “casting couch.”
Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) is one such wide-eyed innocent who
dreams of being an actress. Being
a strict Baptist, she's accompanied by her mother, Lucy (Annette
Bening), who's zealously guarding her daughter's virtue, but she soon
tires of all the delays and just goes home, leaving Marla in the care
of her driver, Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), himself a neophyte small-towner
determined to make it in L.A. Frank
has dreams of being a big land developer, and is convinced that once
he finally meets Mr. Hughes, he'll persuade him to be an investor.
Well, it turns out that both Frank and Marla are compelling and
persuasive, but not necessarily in the ways they intended.
After a period of hiding from both these characters and the
viewers, it now becomes Howard Hughes' show, as he tries to stiff-arm
Congress over airline regulations, and stiff-arm investors who want to
buy his company, and even stiff-arm his own staff who want to manage
him. He refuses to see
people, he turns down appointments, he impuslively decides to move his
whole entourage to another city, or even another country.
He decides he wants to fly an airplane again, and subjects his
terrified staffers to his irresponsible joyriding.
He's an eccentric who's fast becoming a sheer nut case.
And everyone around him puts up with him, because, well,
they're being paid to. And
he's the one with the big bucks.
Though being around the character of Mr. Hughes in this film is
as exasperating for the viewer as it surely is for the other
characters, it's unquestionably a cleverly nuanced performance by
Warren Beatty, who also wrote, directed, and produced the film.
His casting decisions are superb, as Lily Collins lights up the
screen with her Audrey-Hepburn-like doe-eyed-ingenue presence.
Though Alden Ehrenreich's character reads economics textbooks
by night and becomes Mr. Hughes' personal assistant by day, really,
his persona is more like a slow-burn James Dean, all insouciance and
Maybe Mr. Beatty was just trying to find a part for his wife in
his movie, but Annette Bening's role is really superfluous to the
story. There's also a plot
hole in Matthew Broderick's part, as he plays another of Mr. Hughes'
personal assistants who was supposedly fired, but then he inexplicably
re-appears, as if the restorative transition got cut from the final
version. But despite the
fact that most of the screen time is Warren Beatty's, it's Lily
Collins who steals the show. And
her haunting, halting siren song of the same title as the movie.