Plot – American journalist Paul Kemp takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1960s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there – The Rum Diary.
Director – Bruce Robinson
Starring – Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard
Released – 2011
In the past, people have turned mediocre novels into great films through the skill of talented scriptwriters and directors. Unfortunately, Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary isn’t one such adaptation. Depp’s desire to honour his departed friend Hunter S. Thompson by bringing the author’s semi-autobiographical story to the big screen might have been well-intentioned, the product, however, fails to successfully turn the source material into a compelling movie. Feeling over-indulgent, pretentious and at times, a little boring, especially when compared to his previous fore into Thompson’s work; Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, which is an overall much more enjoyable adaptation to sit through.
The film itself progresses in a somewhat old-fashioned manner, with the plot cinematography, direction and soundtrack all feeling like a throwback to the golden age of cinema, which makes sense as it mirrors the time in which the movie takes place and the laid-back atmosphere of the tropical islands where it’s set.
I can say the same for the stunning cinematography, which oozes ’60s style and sophistication. Seriously director Bruce Robinson along with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski outdid themselves when it came to the visuals.
The problems with the production, however, stem from the plot, or lack of as the case may be. As the story progresses you soon realise that the “humour” and jumping from one beautiful to another is the film’s attempt at making up for a paper-thin story, where Depp was allowed free-rein to be as flamboyant and over the top as desired, while the rest of the cast come and go as the plot requires, but never make a lasting impression.