The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary

In Theatres: 
Oct 28, 2011

The Rum Diary is the second of Hunter S. Thompson’s novels to get a theatrical adaptation, after 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas, which has since gain a cult following. Johnny Depp once again takes on the lead role, this time as journalist Paul Kemp. The film depicts Thompson’s own experiences writing for a newspaper in Puerto Rico, and as you can imagine from the title, it involves plenty of rum.

Paul Kemp has just received a new job at The San Juan Star newspaper in Puerto Rico. There, he immerses himself in the atmosphere and culture. And by that I mean he drinks rum all day, gets into trouble with the locals, and experiments with hallucinogenic drugs. You know, the usual stuff Puerto Ricans do. Oh, and he also occasionally writes a few articles for the paper. Even then, he manages to get himself involved with some questionable people such as the wealthy businessman Mr. Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), who plans on profiting off the luxurious island paradise. There’s also the sexy Chenault (Amber Heard), Sanderson’s fiancée, who will no doubt be trouble. All this provides for an exciting, comical, and surprisingly productive adventure for Mr. Kemp.

Johnny Depp excels as the larger than life persona of Thompson. We all know that the author enjoyed his drugs and alcohol, and Depp’s portrayal through Kemp is spot on. Think along the lines of a modern day Jack Sparrow, and you have Paul Kemp. He’s always getting himself in trouble or stumbling around the dusty streets looking for that last drop of rum. He’s the Johnny Depp we know and love. The crazy thing about him is that he’s also a great writer and can come up with some fantastic work. All this plays into the films bigger picture.

Behind the comedy and the Puerto Rican lifestyle is a film about the journalism industry during the 50s and 60s. There’s big businesses ruling the markets and control what does and doesn’t get printed, and it also touches on the poverty level. As a matter of fact, it’s actually not that much different from how things are now.

Hunter S. Thompson was quite the character when he was alive and it shows through his novels. The Rum Diary captures the essence of the book provides an entertaining, and somewhat inspiring, look at how the pen went to paper and thoughts became words. If you’re a fan of Thompson’s work, you’ll love what director Bruce Robinson’s done with The Rum Diary.

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Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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