Review: The Rum Diary

Starts out promising, but quickly becomes a drive-less, uninspiring and confused journey through mediocrity.

The film is In Memory of Hunter S. Thompson, who in film circles is most famous for writing the novel that inspired the trippy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Johnny Depp, when preparing for his role in that film, found the unpublished manuscript for The Rum Diary in Thompson’s basement.
Let’s get one thing straight: this is nothing like Fear and Loathing.

The film follows Paul Kemp, a journalist and alcoholic who finds work for a Newspaper in Puerto Rico. His previous work gets the attention of less-than-honourable businessmen who are intent on using his talents to promote a new hotel complex. What follows is a wannabe crusader’s attempts to sort his life out while alcohol and one of the businessmen’s beautiful women beckon to him.

I don’t… know what this film wants to be. It is called a comedy, but there’s very little humour in it (except the very occasional quip from Depp or surreal moment, harking back to Fear and Loathing) and the lead characters motivations are often unclear. He appears against the construction of housing and hotels in such a beautiful part of the world, yet shows very little turmoil when he is asked to work for the business. This makes Arron Eckheart’s antagonist surprisingly un-antagonistic.
The story telling itself is choppy, as is the editing, and it feels like parts have been left out or sidelined, perhaps for the more tasteful content. The film just sort of “happens”, and by the third act you will probably lose all interest in whatever’s being said.

Unfortunate it has to be the film “in memory” of Thompson, I imagine Fear and Loathing is a far, far more faithful adaptation. If not that, then certainly more memorable!

Additional Marshmallows: “Why’s the Rum gone?”

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