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The Rum Diary
The Rum Diary
Director: Bruce Robinson
Writers: Bruce Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson
Cast: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Michael Rispoli, Marshall Bell, Amaury Nolasco, Bill Smitrovich, Karen Austin, Julian Holloway, Bruno Irizarry, Enzo Cilenti, Aaron Lustig, Tisuby González
Synopsis: Paul Kemp is a freelance journalist who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean. Paul is challenged on many levels as he tries to carve out a more secure niche for himself amidst a group of lost souls all bent on self-destruction.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, brief drug use and sexuality
Another film is saved...thanks to Johnny Depp
Although I wouldn't go out of my way to say "The Rum Diary" is a bad film, as it definitely has it's moments. However, the story is so obliviously weak, and lacks any kind of central direction to hook it's audience. But, like Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, "The Rum Diary" is saved largely because of Johnny Depp. Isn't it amazing how good of an actor he is? Seriously, even in some of his worst films, he still somehow manages to give a solid performance, to where you can never quite bring yourself to ever hate him. It's simply unbelievable sometimes, as even some of Hollywood's current best actors have their limitations, and share of bad movies where they did not perform well.
George Clooney, for example, may be one of the best actors of this generation, and rightfully so considering he's made some pretty good films like "Up In The Air", "The Ides of March", "Ocean's Eleven", "The American", and etc. However, he was also in arguably the worst super hero adaptation of all time in "Batman & Robin", where many people felt he was horrible in the role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Same thing with Christian Bale, who was easily out shined in such films as "Terminator Salvation" and "Public Enemies"; mainly because he was never given enough screen time, or character development to work with in both movies.
Therefore, what the hell is it about Johnny Depp that he can somehow do no wrong in any film regardless of how awful it is? Heck, the closest film that he did that would even come close to being his worst performance was "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", but then again, the movie wasn't awful because of him. Granted, the film wasn't that great, but you could at least applaud Depp for bringing a fresh new take on a popular cult character like Wonka, without the need to imitate Gene Wilder's version. Plus, in spite of bad dialogue and writing for his Wonka character, he was still able to deliver a strong performance in the movie anyway. Hence, I'll ask this again...isn't it just simply amazing how good of an actor he is?
I apologize to all my readers if I'm coming off as a ranting fan boy idolizing Johnny Depp, but he's literally one of the few actors that can make any movie role somehow work; in spite of limitations of the script provided. As for what does all this have to do with "The Rum Diary", I'll get into that now. The story is based off Hunter S. Thompson's novel of the same name, and features Johnny Depp in the starring role as Paul Kemp.
Paul's life is said to be loosely based on the real life experiences of Hunter S. Thompson, as he lands a journalism job working for a local newspaper in the Caribbean. Although Paul may think he has a sweet gig at first, it turns out the news that he's required to work for only requires him to cover stories that would promote tourism rather than actual news; which obviously upsets Paul to a certain degree. To make matters more interesting, Paul Kemp is shown throughout the movie, as having a bit of a drinking problem. How long he's been an alcoholic is never said in the movie, but from what they do tell us here, it seems Paul doesn't show much hesitation when it comes to drowning his sorrows in a drink.
Eventually, he bumps into a corrupt businessman named Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), who's involved in a complex real estate scam; which requires Paul's services to persuade unsuspecting consumers. However, Paul respectfully declines, but he does find himself tempted by the offer because Sanderson's wife, Chenault (Amber Heard), happens to be the same pretty girl that caught his attention on the island, during a party one night. To make a long story short, Paul somehow finds himself in some legal problems after a night of drinking with one of his co-workers, and he's bailed out by Sanderson....which is a big mistake no less. Not only does this immediately make him indebted to take up Sanderson's job offer in his real estate scam, but he soon finds his life spiraling down the path of self destruction.
Although based on this brief summary, one would think "The Rum Diary" would have more emotional impact, but surprisingly it doesn't. Sure, there's the brief forbidden love story between Chenault and Paul that carries it's own dramatic weight, and there's a conclusion to Paul's character that gives him a strong resolve in his journalism, but that doesn't happen until the end of the movie. And by the time it does happen, the movie is already over; which makes this movie a bit of a tease of what it could have been if more thought process had gone into the story.
Sure, I'll admit the images that Paul sees when he's high, in one scene, is eerily reminiscent of the film, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"; which only stands to create some rather impressive imagery to allow the audience to see how in depth Paul's addiction to alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs go. But in the end, it's only a teaser of what could have been a more dramatic story.
However, that's not to say this is a bad movie by any means. No, just a slightly above average one at best, as the acting in this movie is solid on all cylinders. Not only does Johnny Depp put on an Oscar-esque type of performance again, but even seasoned actors like Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins seem to be in top form as well. Plus, Amber Heard wasn't too shabby playing the seductively mischievous married woman that finds herself smitten by Paul's charms.
In the end, "The Rum Diary" may not be the best Johnny Depp film that I've seen, but it's certainly a good movie nonetheless. If you haven't seen it by now, then I'd highly recommend it at a rating of two and a half out of four.