It’s been very rough beginning for Warren Beatty this year, I’m sure that many of you remember the best picture mix-up at this year’s academy awards. Everyone remembers the panic and confusion of the backroom staff, hosts and pretty much everyone in the film industry when it occurred. That level of confusion could not be replicated, however after seeing Rules Don’t Apply, I was dumbfounded by the complication of this film.
Researching the film, it only made 3 million dollars with a budget of 25 million dollars, that is a staggering box office bomb, but it is justifiable by the amount of odd choices that are featured in a film which Warren Beatty starred in, directed, produced and wrote. So many films have had roles undertaken by one person and almost all of them have received a negative reception so already the film has raised many alarm bells.
Before I get into specifics about what I felt went wrong with Rules Don’t Apply. I first want to mention the first few elements that were great or just fine, one of them being the performances from Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins. These two play easily identifiable characters, Lily Collins an aspiring actress and Alden Ehrenreich a driver both working under the mysterious philanthropist Howard Hughes. Their respective characters Frank and Marla have a relationship that becomes so captivating that they steal the show from the rest of the characters. A detail is give in the film that these characters can’t have a relationship because there are under contract with Howard Hughes, now if the film had been primarily about the forbidden love between these two characters, then we have a romance that is both interesting and captivating because of its forbidden nature.
I also appreciated how Warren Beatty used visuals to amplify the mysteriousness of Howard Hughes, in almost every scene the character is present in, there is always minimal lighting highlighting his face. This type of lighting not only makes him a mysterious character, but it also a great visual representation of the character’s dementia making him feel isolated from other people and give more truth to his habit of not seeing anyone.
While these elements have the potential to give this film a tiny lift, the number of amateur mistakes in film and narrative consistency attached a ten tonne weight that brings the film crashing down to earth with a thud, with the editing being the most atrocious sin Rules Don’t Apply commits. Almost every cut in the film is made at the wrong time, throughout most the films run time, scene looks as if there are about to go further into the characters occupying it, but then unexpectedly, we very sharply cut to the next scene. This style of editing ruins the films pacing and adds quickness to scenes where nothing interesting is happening which create the sense of falsely dramatises the scene.
You will quickly start to puzzle over what exactly Rules Don’t Apply is meant to be. It certainly starts off as a romance between Frank and Marla but as soon as Howard Hughes is introduced it decides to become a drama, then we’re learning more about Howard’s life so it becomes a biopic. What exactly is the genre of this film? I only ask this because while the film ticks the boxes of each individual genre, there is no certain viewing path to follow. I’ve have always set a rule for myself that if an audience can’t identify the main genre of a film within the first ten minutes, then you probably in for a rough viewing experience and Rules Don’t Apply is the perfect film to prove this point.
Further expressing the lack of genre identity also supplies the film with a very dreary and dull tone, you can often find moments of excitement in romance film signified by certain story events, but because Rules Don’t Apply is a very uncertain film, you often find yourselves with characters that just talk to each other and changes in character don’t have as much impact as they should have because of the dreariness in the excessive overuse of dialogue. Nothing exciting happens and audiences need some tiny glimmer of shock value to become more involved with the story, how does Warren Beatty expect us to stay focused when all the characters are doing is talking to each other. Action often speak louder than words, obviously the message hasn’t been received in this film.
Rules Don’t Apply is a strenuous vanity project that has the undercover purpose of showing audiences how great Warren Beatty is, unfortunately what the film has instead done is shown the exact opposite of that and not even some great performances can rescue whatever potential this film had. A long-winded, complicated mess of a narrative and slapdash editing create a film destined for obscurity.
Final Result: 2/10 – Very Poor
Have you seen Rules Don’t Apply? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2