“Rules Don’t Apply” (Fox)
By Catholic News Service
A small-town beauty queen and aspiring actress (Lily Collins) becomes one of the many fetching would-be stars summoned to 1950s Hollywood by eccentric RKO Pictures owner Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty, who also wrote and directed). Like her peers, she’s housed in style and assigned a chauffeur (Alden Ehrenreich), part of whose job is to report any misbehavior with men he might observe. Despite strict rules against fraternizing, the two fall for each other. But the looming, though often invisible, presence of their increasingly unhinged employer complicates matters in unexpected ways.
Religion plays a prominent part in Beatty’s loosely fact-based blend of comedy and drama: both main characters are hired by Hughes in part because they are devout Protestants. The slightly sneering script portrays their faith-based sexual mores as naive and repressive and their eventual loss of innocence as at least partially liberating. Artistically, their love story sits uncomfortably beside the awkwardly humorous spectacle of a brilliant billionaire slowly going bonkers.
An ambivalent depiction of Christian faith, semi-graphic scenes of premarital sex, some distasteful visual humor, mature themes, including abortion, several profanities, at least one use each of rough and crude language, a few crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.