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Hunter S. Thompson The Rum Diary Movie Review

Updated on February 24, 2012

Who is Hunter S. Thompson and what is Gonzo Journalism?

Those are important questions to ask before watching movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or The Rum Diary (both based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson) to have a deeper understanding of what the movies are really trying to represent/portray. Many who watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas actually though that it was just an altered-state inspired story of drugs and hooliganism. It actually was but there's actually more to it. His works actually paved the way to changing creative non-fiction forever. Yes, Gonzo Journalism was born when he wrote The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, something portrayed in a scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

It's really hard to pinpoint Hunter's contributions to American culture and politics just in a few paragraphs. So instead of doing that, I'll just recommend two very interesting documentaries about his life and works: Gonzo: the Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Breakfast with Hunter. Not only will it explain the personality embodied in most of the characters of Hunter's novels, it also shows Johnny Depp's relationship with Hunter S. Thompson. They were really close friends and through some sort of method acting technique, he really immersed himself with Hunter and his habits. It's also surprising how many important personalities in contemporary politics show so much respect for Hunter. It's really worth watching and a great precursor to watching The Rum Diary.

Hunter S. Thompson The Rum Diary

Much like Fear and Loathing in the Campaign Trail '72, Hunter's "Gonzo Journalism" style loved to use exaggeration and fantastical themes but still maintaining the journalism aspect of narrating what is actually happening in the real world. I feel that this kind of style is also present in The Rum Diary, although a fictional story about a journalist sent to Puerto Rico, still represented a lot of the political and cultural aspects of the region. This is really one thing you can find very enjoyable with Hunter's stories and writings and I do believe that the production theme did a great job in preserving the Gonzo-ness essence of the story.

An interesting trivia would actually be about the screenwriter who previously had problems with alcoholism had to return to drinking in order to finish the script. Aside from the method acting of Johnny Depp, it seems that the screenwriter was in the same mood or using the same technique. Throughout watching the movie, I actually found myself craving rum and cigarettes.

I did feel that The Rum Diary movie was a bit more reserved or repressed, if you will. I mean, this is probably because I am comparing it to the crazier Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Again though, having watched the documentaries about the life and woks of Hunter S. Thompson, you can really see how Hunter is embodied in the character. He actually wrote the novel back in the 60's but was published only very recently. One thing is for sure, any of his novels could easily be adapted into film and it would be very interesting. Hunter's unique perspective of the world is surely entertaining and at the same time very informative.

The Rum Diary Blu-ray DVD Cover
The Rum Diary Blu-ray DVD Cover

The Rum Diary Movie Review

I don't think anyone else can replace Johnny Depp when it comes to portraying the characters of Hunter S. Thompson's novels and again this is because of this friendship they had and ammount of time they spent with each other. Johnny Depp's acting skills truly is so diverse and he's perfect for the role.

This movie, much like Hunter's writings, isn't really for everyone. I say this because I'm pretty sure not everyone will understand especially the social conservatives or moral majority types. This is why I encourage everyone first to research on his life and see what kind of impact he has done to American culture and politics in spite of some of his socially undesirable habits and lifestyle. There's actually a lot of humorous scenes in the movie that you'll understand more only if you've researched more on Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo Journalism.

I actually really liked the movie. It made me want to travel and write and drink from miniature alcohol bottles. Following the story of a journalist/struggling novelist in Puerto Rico from the perspective of Hunter S. Thompson is really something. Check it out!


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