Movie Review: Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply offers an odd tribute to the myth of Howard Hughes

Warren Beatty, who hasn’t directed a movie since Bulworth or acted in one in 15 years, returns to film with Rules Don’t Apply, a 1950s-set sex comedy about hormones, premature ejaculation, religious belief, and the mythology of Howard Hughes that is as intriguing in its idiosyncrasy as it is flat-footed in execution. Its conceit is to turn the mentally ill billionaire Hughes (Beatty) into a stand-in for God, inspiring awe and guilt in a couple of church-going young people who work at his Hollywood film studio: a chauffeur named Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) and a virginal starlet named Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins). Aside from Beatty’s performance, the only consistent thing the movie has going for it is ineffable strangeness; it seems to be trapped at the bottom of the chasm that separates its subversive aims from its nostalgic pursuits.

The style is almost as unreal as Beatty …

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