The Rum Diary is based off the novel by the late Hunter S. Thompson, and tells Thompson’s story of his time in Puerto Rico as a freelance journalist. Johnny Depp (who plays the lead character/Thompson’s alter-ego Paul Kemp) was friends with Thompson and clearly took on this project as a tribute and labor of love.
Kemp (Depp) takes a job with the San Juan Star in Puerto Rico. Despite his resume being full of lies, the editor E.J. Lotterman (Richard Jenkins) lacks any better options – so Kemp it is! The paper is struggling, and Kemp may not have a job for long. Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) crosses paths with Kemp and offers him a chance to join a rather shady project that seems financially promising – but comes with the cost of throwing one’s morals to the wind.
As Kemp schmoozes with Sanderson, he encounters his girlfriend Chenault (Amber Heard). Chenault is a free-spirited gal and instantly attracts Kemp’s attention. However the chemistry between the two is never really realized by the audience – the script just doesn’t allow for it even though it focuses much of its attention on the two – and Sanderson’s interactions.
Kemp finds himself in a rather tight predicament – join Sanderson and throw his morals to the wind? Or not. The film continues to wind itself all over the place and continually slams into walls – almost making you wonder if the writers had a bit too much rum. It feels as if it could be two completely separate films, but instead brilliant moments of comedy and seemingly irrelevant moments of drama just leave the viewers a bit confused.
You can’t pick apart the acting however. Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, and Richard Jenkins all give solid performances. Amber Heard, who is finding herself more and more in the spotlight, does a fabulous job as well – you can’t help but be memorized with stunning looks.
Another stunning aspect of the film is nearly every location in which it is shot. Slow sweeping transitions and wide shots helped the film to have a rather artistic quality – which sadly was the most charming element of The Rum Diary.
Review By: Emma Loggins