The Rum Diary, Johnny Depp

<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>

Directed by Bruce Robinson. Starring Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli, Richard Jenkins.

Apparently this film is based on a book. I found out because one of the press gentlemen next to me at the show said it was one of his favourites as a young man. He admitted that the film probably wouldn’t be as good as the book (and later agreed the film was ‘awful’). I haven’t read the book and after watching this film I’m quite sure I won’t!

An eccentric and troubled American journalist called Hunter S Thompson wrote the story (along with another famous book to movie called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which also starred Depp). And it was meant to be autobiographical. Thompson supposedly is the founder of Gonzo journalism, where reporters become an integral part of their stories. Johnny Depp plays the character based on him, called Paul Kemp. Drunk and down on life, Paul has retreated to the island of Puerto Rico to take up a job at a local newspaper headed by beleaguered editor Mr Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). And then begins his journey into some strange land deals, drugs, thugs and other men’s women.

Aaron Eckhart is Mr Sanderson, a rich and greedy businessman who wants to execute a shady land deal on the ‘paradise’ island but must have Paul’s gift with the typewriter to make the deal look kosher. Amber Heard is Chenault (it sounds like Chanel when they say it onscreen), Sanderson’s sexy girlfriend who Paul takes a keen liking to.

Okay, so it’s set way back in the sixties, complete with old model chrome Chevy’s and lots of colloquial dialogue from the times. Paul is joined on his strange journey traversing the parts of Puerto Rico that don’t qualify as paradise by sidekicks Sala (Michael Rispoli) and Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi) who coupled with the oddball Depp look like a retro version of the gang in The Hangover (and the similarities go on with alcoholism and drug use, but no monkeys, only cockerels!).

To be honest, as much as Depp always manages to make a movie interesting, this one just bored me to death. It goes nowhere, has stretched out scenes that add nothing to the plot, oh and it doesn’t really have a plot. The whole land deal thing just sputters and fizzles out. At the end we are told by way of a tagline as we watch Paul Kemp sail away into the sunset that this is just the beginning of another story. Well, we missed the first one!

Depp can’t be faulted and Giovanni Ribisi as the drugged out, pissed-as-a-fart ‘journalist’ is brilliant. Eckhart sadly doesn’t have much to do.

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