#315/ 365 – ‘The Rum Diary’ – 120 mins
Cinema Challenge #121 / 115
Journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) travels to Puerto Rico to write for the local newspaper, The San Juan Star. Immersing himself in the island’s rum-soaked lifestyle, he soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the fiancée of wily American entrepreneur Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a shady property developer. He recruits Kemp to write favourable things about his latest scheme, and it’s down to the journalist to take the money or the moral high ground
After a dose of ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’, Johnny Depp once again dabbles in the work of his late and great friend, the writer Hunter S Thompson, in this adaptation of Thompson’s semi-autobiographical debut novel.
In The Rum Diary you are whisked into a tale of excess, drink, greed, poverty and corruption to which Bruce Robinson’s “Withnail and I,”, finds a near pitch perfect film along our protagonists journey in Paul Kemp who is simply searching for balance in life. From the outset the Rum Diary is visually appealing as you are transported to the sunny setting of Puerto Rico and with its seductive charm, it almost makes you want to pack up your life and fly out there.
Johnny Depp gives yet another solid character performance, but it’s the terrific performances from the supporting cast to where the movie really shines. Michael Rispoli is great fun as photojournalist Bob Salas who is Kemp’s first real friend on the island. Richard Jenkins is entertaining as the quarrelsome newspaper editor Edward J. Lotterman. Aaron Eckhart is smooth as Sanderson who charms everyone around him, yet hints subtlety at the vicious businessman hiding beneath his surface.
Though it’s Giovanni Ribisi who gets top honours as Moberg, a challenged reporter who’s always under the influence of some kind of narcotic, and he almost steals the show every time Robinson allows his camera to linger upon him.