By ISAAC WHALEN
The contents of Bruce Robinson’s film “The Rum Diary” consists of four parts drunken escapades, three parts gonzo journalism, two parts Johnny Depp, and one part Puerto Rico, mixed well to create an adequate movie experience.
While fans of Hunter S. Thompson’s written work, and Johnny Depp’s acting will enjoy this movie, the film’s episodic feel might put others off.
Much like its spiritual counterpart “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Robinson’s film stays true to Hunter’s life style and presents the adventures of it protagonist in manic bouts of journalistic investigation combined with alcoholic consumption.
This in turn creates a film with a plot less concerned with a solid ending and more interested in a quirky journey, a turn off for some audiences.
“The Rum Diary” tells the story of Paul Kemp, an alcohol-soaked journalist who moves to Puerto Rico for the fledgling local newspaper.
Looking for a chance to make an impact and expose Puerto Rico’s down trodden state, Kemp instead finds a country manipulated by the rich in all aspects. Excellently portrayed by Aaron Eckahrt, the movie’s antagonist, Sanderson, attempts to acquire Kemp’s writing ability to “sell” his shady land dealings to the public and tourists.
However, like all works influenced by the late Thompson, the political message and morals take a side—or in most cases back—seat to the more wild side of life. While on the island, Kemp acquires a taste for the local drink, rum, and for the consequences that often follow.
Kemp thinks of himself as a “social” drinker, but this does not prevent him from drinking 470 proof alcohols and getting arrested with his friend Sala. When the rum runs dry, Sala and Kemp drop hallucinogens gained from their co-worker Moberg who states they’re “used by the FBI on communists.”
By the facts “The Rum Diary” is a film that knows its follower base and has played itself right to them. Fans of Depp’s eccentric portrayal of Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” will love the film, as will the boozehound in all of us. However, the film is far from perfect. With a plot that tends to wander and a somewhat sudden and weak ending, the movie comes across on the higher end of mediocre. Die-hard fans of Thompson and Depp, as well as those curious of the drinking habits in the late Eisenhower era, are encouraged to see this film. To the others, the film holds potential for excitement, just be ready to throw a few back.
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