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Rules Don't Apply

Warren Beatty has been a terrific filmmaker for many years. His "Heaven Can Wait" from 1978 remains one of my all time favorites. Nearly 40 years later, writer/director Beatty's latest RULES DONT APPLY moved quickly in and out of theatres.

Frank Forbes is a young driver for Howard Hughes, shuttling a never ending parade of beautiful young actresses to countless paid-for apartments where they sit weeks or months to meet Mr. Hughes.

Frank is very well played by Aiden Ahrenreich, who's been cast as a young Han Solo in the upcoming "Solo" Star Wars film. He does remind you of a young Harrison Ford, with plenty of sarcasm, charm and screen presence.

Frank's driving Hollywood's latest arrival for Hughes, Marla (Lily Collins) and he's charmed by her complete lack of filter or awareness.

She's arrived with her controlling mother Lucy (a great Annette Bening) in tow, who has much less patience for the constant waiting game to meet Hughes.

Howard's right hand man Levar (Matthew Broderick doing the exasperated thing he does so well) warns Frank that drivers NEVER have a relationship with Howard's young potential leading ladies, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Things grow complicated when Howard Hughes finally does meet Marla and finds her refreshing in her sheer innocence.

What follows is an interesting but never quite successful blend of comedy, heartbreak, historical fact & fiction.

Beatty is ok as Howard Hughes and gets better as the film goes on. His final scenes are especially heartbreaking. After Leonardo DeCaprio's fantastic performance as Hughes in Scorcese's brilliant Hughes doc "The Aviator" in 2004, it's a risk for anyone to take on Hughes, and one that Beatty ultimately fails in comparison.

Ehrenreich and Collins are fun together anytime they're on screen, but the story seems to make them pawns in the story it wants to tell, versus letting their relationship unfold in any realistic way.

The film looks great, Caleb Deschanel (The Right Stuff, The Patriot) shoots it in perfect 50's/60's Hollywood tones and the production design is flawless.

It's fun & interesting to watch Frank and Marla's small town values challenged by the golden era of the flm business and one of the most powerful men in the world.

But Beatty's underplayed performance seems a bit too quiet and lacks the confidence you expect in the role, which is odd coming from the Beatty of "Heaven Can Wait", "Reds" and "Bonnie and Clyde".

Like Hughes himself, Beatty seems like a shadow of his old self here and RULES DON'T APPLY suffers for it, earning a B-.

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