‘Rules Don’t Apply’ to Beatty’s Surprisingly Inventive RomCom

by Lydia Velazquez ‘17

Thanksgiving week came and went this year with a promising selection of films. A film that was overshadowed, however, by a long anticipated new Disney princess movie and a Harry Potter spin-off was “Rules Don’t Apply,” a romantic comedy set in the 1960s.

The film, directed by Warren Beatty, centers around Marla Mabery (Lily Collins), a small-town songwriter and devout Baptist who moves to California to be an actress, signed by the mysterious billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty), and Frank Forbes (Aiden Ehrenreich), a Methodist and newly-hired chauffeur for Hughes’ actresses. As any audience member could anticipate, a romance buds between the two Hollywood newbies. Nevertheless, complications for the relationship arise as result of the pair’s religious differences and the rule that no employee of Hughes may have a relationship with a contracted actress.

Although the film is advertised as a romantic comedy focused on the star-crossed lovers, aspects of the work feel more biographical, given Hughes’ presence. Even when he isn’t in a scene, there are implications of Hughes’ influence over the characters. In real life, Hughes was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world during his time. Hughes was a film tycoon who became involved in the aviation industry on the side, and he was most active in his projects in the 1930s. However, as portrayed in the film, during his later years Hughes suffered from chronic pain from a plane crash and OCD, influencing his actions and deeming him insane in the public eye. The film thus shines a light on the intimate side of Hughes. Despite the fact that this was his first film in 15 years, Beatty, who is an Academy Award nominated and winning actor and director, portrayed the complexities of Hughes’ character splendidly.

Aside from the three-dimensional characters and terrific acting, another aspect of the movie that makes it stand out are the minor details, from long shots of Forbes driving down 60s-esque Hollywood Blvd, to the interior design of Hughes’ bungalow. These depictions of the time period’s culture, make the movie tha more immersive and entrancing.

With its star-scattered cast, outlandish plot, and recurring themes of self-actualization, “Rules Don’t Apply” deserves an audience who want something more than Harry Potter.