The Rum Diary

Film, Drama
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The Rum Diary
Rhum Express
The story goes that Johnny Depp was with Hunter S Thompson in the author’s basement rifling through boxes when he came across the manuscript of ‘The Rum Diary’ – a novel Thompson wrote in the early 1960s aged 22, fictionalising his stint on a newspaper in Puerto Rico. Depp persuaded him to publish. Oh, and why not make a film? The result is surprisingly un-addled, an affectionate, from-the-heart tribute to Thompson (who died in 2005) – though perhaps more conventional than any film associated with him has any right to be. While it features plenty of mild, boozy havoc-wreaking, you’ll find no uppers or downers here, no rage, no cocaine, no mescaline and virtually no loss of motor skills.

Using super-strength bleach, writer/director Bruce Robinson (‘Withnail and I’) has disinfected the novel into an origins story – a kind of ‘Gonzo: The Early Years’. Depp plays Thompson’s alter ego (as he did in ‘Fear and Loathing’): Paul Kemp, a failed 30-year-old novelist who washes up in the office of a two-bit tourist rag in Puerto Rico. ‘I’ve got no voice. I don’t know how to write like me,’ he complains. This is Thompson before he invented gonzo journalism – that frenzy of non-fiction-fiction he aimed at those he believed to be crooks and imposters. How does Kemp find his writing style? Dropping acid for the first time lights the fire. The story is stoked by a run-in with a corrupt property developer (Aaron Eckhart) and his distractingly gorgeous girlfriend (Amber Heard).

It’s funny as hell in places and touchingly warm. But, like Thompson without gonzo, ‘The Rum Diary’ is directionless and a little lacking in tone. And you have to ask if Depp – at 48 – is a fraction too old to play 30. I’m not sure. He looks in better shape than men half his age. But that unassailable, unshakaeble, unruffled charisma does make him hard to buy as a man on his uppers. Caution: this may leave you hankering for a little cynical, subversive bile.

By: Cath Clarke


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday September 24 2010
Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bruce Robinson
Cast: Aaron Eckhart
Amber Heard
Richard Jenkins
Giovanni Ribisi
Johnny Depp

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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I did laugh out loud in places, but, although I'd agree it was 'directionless', I actually thought the weakest bits were when there was some sort of discernable plot, like the love story element, or the property development bit. I thought everyone was really good in it, and I much prefer Johnny Depp playing a 'real person' than a Mad Hatter or a fictional chocolate factory owner.

Pretty straightforward story (bar our 3 drunken heroes) with the Great Jenkins and the good (again) Depp. Not much more to report...worth a trip! 7/10

After reading a book,then seeing the film of said book,it's highly unlikely to work(have experienced this so many times).I am waiting for delivery of a CD,to compare.I enjoyed this film,although after so much negativity....I nearly didn't go to see it.Don't think our American cousins would approve.No interruptions from cell phones TG!.Pity there isn't a 3.1/2 star rating

I was really looking forward to this film, but ultimately left feeling rather deflated. Every time yuou think the story is going somewhere, it seems to peter out, and eventually time starts to drag. Looks nice, though.