Rules Don’t Apply (2016) Film Review

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This film strays far from its trailer. I thought it was going to be centred around some sort of Lily Collins, Marilyn Monroe casting mix up; as it happens Megan Hilty (who plays Marilyn) only appears in a few brief scenes – the whole thing is really a Howard Hughes biopic of sorts. Given that Warren Beatty produced and directed this film and stars as Hughes himself; it’s hard to get away from the idea that this is a self-indulgent offering made largely for his own amusement.

Rules Don’t Apply suffers from pacing issues. The first, I don’t know, let’s say 30 minutes is littered with ‘moments’ relating to Marla Mabrey’s arrival in LA to be a contract actress for Hughes. These moments, where she’s seen settling into her apartment, attending classes, church, picking up her paycheck etc. are cut together with some very choppy editing that makes it akin to rapidly flicking through a stack of gif-like Polaroids. As soon as Hughes does arrive on the scene the whole thing slows down completely.

It’s at the point of Mabrey and Hughes’ meeting that the plot really begins to develop. Lily Collins is undoubtedly the star of this film; she portrays a feisty, uncomplicated female who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. She shines throughout Marla’s transforms from a naive girl doing what she can to follow a dream while remaining true to her morals; to a brave young woman dealing with a predicament dealt by the hands of an unforgiving industry. Beatty does a fine job but I can’t say I found his portrayal of Hughes interesting or endearing. The film falls flat when he’s left on screen for too long and, particularly in its latter stages where the focus more solidly flips towards him, I started to wonder how the heck the whole thing was going to end. I can confirm it does end but takes quite a long time to reach its conclusion.

Overall, this film definitely isn’t a perfect depiction of the source material and I’m not sure the source material really needed making into a film; but it does provide some beautifully nostalgic visuals of LA and makes clever use of a sweet song at pivotal moments that’s neatly based on the film’s title. Collins’ performance is worth seeing. I give Rules Don’t Apply a rating of 3/5.

Rules Don’t Apply is now available on Amazon Video*!

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