11/28/2016 11:08 am ET Updated Nov 29, 2017

'Rules Don't Apply' To Warren Beatty

Rules Don't Apply is Warren Beatty's first major motion picture in 15 years, but definitely worth the wait.

Warren Beatty's film debut in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass, made him a star in his 20's. Now, his new film which opened Thanksgiving weekend, Rules Don't Apply, has shades of Splendor inside out.

Both films deal with young love struggling with the strictures of strong religious upbringings.The difference is that in Splendor the guy doesn't get the girl at the end. Whereas in Rules, the guy does. But not telling which guy. You have to see the movie to find out.

More Splendor comparisons. Singer Phil Collins daughter, Lilly Collins, is a Natalie Wood lookalike. Alden Ehrenreich comes across as a young Beatty. The two have great chemistry and Beatty, the director, is able to elicit strong performances from them both.

Director Beatty, despite his reputed insistence on many takes, is often able to bring out the best in actors. Their performances in his films are often the highlights of their careers. For example, Madonna in Beatty's Dick Tracy turned in the best acting performance of her career, and her torch song won an Academy Award.

Although there are some surprising twists and turns in this film, it is not surprising that following in her dad Phil Collins footsteps, Lilly Collins' secret to seduction, is her sweetness singing a song.

Beatty's real-life wife, Annette Bening, is the ambitious, uptight, Baptist stage mother of Lilly Collins. Bening in this role, is worth the price of admission. Baptist Bening conjures up memories of the late Jean Arthur, the Queen of Screwball Comedy in her day and my acting teacher at Vassar. There are a lot of laughs in this film, and in a good way.

Producing, writing, directing, and playing Howard Hughes, Beatty gives a sympathetic, nuanced performance of a brilliant man, who is misunderstood and underappreciated, as is often the case with a man ahead of his time. Not the pretty boy in this one and playing against type, Beatty deserves an acting Academy Award for his portrayal of Hughes. The initial planned encounter between billionaire Beatty as Hughes and one of his drivers, Alden Ehrenreich, sitting down eating hamburgers outdoors in the cold, will become a classic.

The all-star cast includes Alec Baldwin as Hughes' CEO who never meets Hughes but runs his empire, Candice Bergen as Hughes' administrative assistant, Matthew Broderick as one of Hughes' trusted drivers, Martin Sheen as yet another of Hughes' trusted advisers, and Paul Sorvino in a cameo appearance on a black-and-white television set in a news clip.

Parents and teens should see Rules Don't Apply together. It's an excellent way to open up a discussion on some very touchy subjects like sex and religion--almost everything you're not supposed to talk about in polite company. Running time is about 2 hours.

Lonna Saunders has been blogging for the Huffington Post since 2010. She may be reached at