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SYNOPSIS: Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) is an aspiring young actress who arrives in 1958 Hollywood to work for unpredictable billionaire, Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty). Her driver is Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), who is aware of the rule that employees are not allowed to have any relationship with a contract actress. Besides, he is engaged to be married to his childhood sweetheart. Marla does not fit the mould: she is a small town beauty queen, songwriter and devout Baptist virgin. Marla and Frank are instantly attracted to each other as they are drawn into Hughes' bizarre world.

Review by Louise Keller:
Set in 1958 Hollywood, Warren Beatty's polished film about a starlet, her driver and billionaire Howard Hughes starts with promise but fizzles into a drawn out, tedious disappointment. There are some wonderful moments, though. Chances are that Beatty, who has long had a fascination for billionaire Hughes, struggled to find a happy balance between the Hughes portrait and the love story at the film's centre. In other words, the film's parts work better individually than they do as a whole.

As a portrait, the film frustrates due to its incomplete nature and the audience's knowledge of Hughes' affairs is assumed. The later ramblings of the increasingly erratic and mentally unstable Hughes become self indulgent, although the film could hardly be called a vanity project.

Resembling a young Elizabeth Taylor, Lily Collins is exquisite. She oozes star quality as Marla Mabrey, the conservative beauty queen who does not fit the curvaceous mould of the Hollywood starlet, while Alden Ehrenreich is ideal as Frank Forbes, the handsome James Dean-esque would be economist, who takes his responsibilities seriously. The relationship between them works well in the context of the 50s conservatism of the times. Tucked away at home is Frank's 7th grade sweetheart (Taissa Farmiga). The love story is charming.

Most successful is the creation of the film's reality with its stunning production design - set at a time when the social, sexual and political changes of the 60s are imminent.

It has been 15 years since Beatty's last feature film and his portrayal of the complex movie maker, industrialist and American hero is both enigmatic and frustrating. An air of mystery is built around Hughes, compounded by the fact that the two young protagonists through whose eyes the story is told initially have not yet met their employer. Just as they wait to meet him, so do we; in his first scenes, Beatty is dimly lit as he watches from the shadows. in the shadows

Beatty has assembled a wonderful cast with wife Annette Bening as Marla's conservative mother, Matthew Broderick solid as Frank's manager and unlimited talent in the form of Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Haley Bennett, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Martin Sheen and Paul Sorvino. Watch for a cameo from Steve Coogan.

The onscreen and offscreen talents are worthy of a better result and the fact that there are 16 producers credited (including Beatty, Steve Bing and James Packer) speaks for itself.

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(US, 2016)

CAST: Warren Beatty, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen, Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Alec Baldwin, Steve Coogan

PRODUCER: Warren Beatty, Steve Bing, Ron Burkle, Molly Conners, Frank Giustra, Sarah E. Johnson, William D. Johnson, Jonathan McCoy, Arnon Milchan, Steven Mnuchin, Sybil Robson Orr, James Packer, Brett Ratner, Terry Semel, Jeffrey Soros, Christopher Woodrow

DIRECTOR: Warren Beatty

SCRIPT: Warren Beatty


EDITOR: Robin Gonsalves, Leslie Jones, Brian Scofield, Billy Weber

MUSIC: Not credited

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeannine Oppewall

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes



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