If there’s one thing to take away from Warren Beatty’s La La Land…I mean Rules Don’t Apply…it’s that Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins are proper Hollywood stars with bright futures ahead of them. It’s just a shame, then, that they struggle to shine under the looming shadow of Beatty himself, whose portrayal of Howard Hughes doesn’t so much steal as it does take over the show.
Set during 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, Ehrenreich and Collins play a couple who are forbidden from starting any kind of romantic relationship. She’s the virginal actress, new to Hollywood, who is taken under contract by Hughes; he’s the actress’ driver, who has dreams of starting a real estate project with the businessman.
While the two fall in love with each other, it doesn’t take long for Beatty’s Hughes to get in the way of their relationship and the film itself. Before long, it becomes difficult to distinguish what the actor/producer/director is more interested in: a love story set against the backdrop of the Hollywood dream factory (not much unlike La La Land), or a quasi-biopic about Hughes’ rumoured decline into depression and mental instability.
And so what you end up with is something that feels uncomfortably close to a vanity project for Beatty, regardless of how enjoyable his performance is, and a mess of a story that never really settles down from jumping frantically to the two different plot threads.
When things do calm down, however, there is plenty to like. As mentioned, Ehrenreich and Collins are fabulous, and they are supported by a few familiar faces such as Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin along the way. As well as the charming cast, romance and the humour is handled well enough to the point where Rules Don’t Apply is perfectly amiable up to a point. But with a tighter, more focused script, one can’t help but think this would have been something far more lovely.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com