Cert: 15 Runtime: 120 mins Director: Bruce Robinson Cast: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Giovanni Ribisi, Amber Heard and Richard Jenkins
Human beings are the only creatures on earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn’t got one
The Rum Diary is a project that Johnny Depp has been dying to film for a while. The film is based on Hunter S. Thompson’s semi-autobiographical debut novel, ‘The Rum Diary’ is a riotously funny, booze-soaked yarn. It also continues star Johnny Depp’s obsession with his late friend Thompson, having played him in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’.Johnny Depp stars in the unhinged tale of a drunken journalist who falls for a rich man’s girl.Bored with Eisenhower-era America, New York newspaper journalist Philip Kemp (Johnny Depp) decides to chance his arm by starting a new life on the idyllic Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Here, he lands a job on the local paper, the San Juan Star, under downtrodden editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). It’s not long before Kemp settles into the drunken and debauched ways of the US ex-pat community. Dangerously, he also falls for Chenault (Amber Heard), the impossibly sexy fiancee of dodgy businessman Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart).
To get straight to the heart of the matter, “The Rum Diary” is a film that almost entirely lacks focus but entertains. The filmmakers want it to be about so many different things that you never really end up caring about what’s going to happen next. The most focus it gets is when Sanderson asks Paul to write the real estate articles, which is a subplot that carries over until about the last half hour of the movie, but even when it’s the main plot going on, the film never focuses on it.Because of this, we get a film that feels very episodic, jumping continually from one thing to the next, and not taking time to develop any of the scenarios it presents. It goes from Paul taking the job at the San Juan Star to his deal with Sanderson to Paul’s adventures with Chenault to Paul wanting to get something printed at the dying paper. By the time it’s done, you find that it’s just been one jumbled mess of episodes.The comedy side of the film wins you over though, as you grow to love the characters, in whatever situation they are in during the film.This adaptation of Thomson’s book comes from Bruce Robinson, who is most known for bringing us the overrated cult film “Withnail & I.” After finding out that this was the same writer/director, it started to become clear why “The Rum Diary” had been as meandering as it had. Robinson had the same problem keeping focus with “Withnail & I.” He wasn’t able to bring focus to a central story, but instead made it a loose series of adventures, which turned it into a jumbled up jigsaw.
You may recall that this is not Depp’s first go at playing a version of Thompson. He also did so in Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” where he played a very strange, eccentric version of the author. In “The Rum Diary,” he is much more reserved, drinking occasionally, but never seeming to get out of control. It’s not Depp’s best performance by far, but it was a new dimension to this great actor. Two men stood out in this film for me Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Rispoli, they are very good supporting men, their characters bring a lot of light to the film and very funny quotes. I may need to point out that Amber Heard is a very beautiful actress, her character is rather dull but man she is hot. I’ve never read the book this film is based on, but I do assume there is more structure in it.You can feel how much Depp loved Hunter in this film, it is a great homage to the man. He even went so far as to go out on the road on a college tour to promote the film. Perhaps this material works better as a novel, where Thompson would have been able to take his time developing each story as it occurred, but as a film, it just doesn’t work. 7.7/10