AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Caitlyn Collins | October 25, 2011
Writers: Bruce Robinson (screenplay), Hunter S. Thompson (novel)
Director: Bruce Robinson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhardt, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins
The Rum Diary was a long time in the making according to its star Johnny Depp. Paul Kemp (Depp) is a newspaper journalist who leaves the hustle and bustle of New York for the paradise of Puerto Rico. He interviews with the editor of the San Juan Star, Lotterman (Richard Jenkins), who only wants to know how much booze Kemp imbibes daily. Kemp befriends fellow reporter Sala (Michael Rispoli), who rents him a room in an apartment shared by gritty, dingy, and slightly crazy Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi), also a writer for the paper.
As Kemp becomes familiar with island life, he meets the breathtaking Chenault (Amber Heard), fiancé of businessman Sanderson (Aaron Eckhardt). Kemp willingly becomes chummy with Sanderson if only to have the opportunity to be around Chenault. Soon Kemp must decide if he’s willing be in the pocket of Sanderson and his cronies, or if he’s the type of journalist that will always write the truth.
Depp was able to bring screenplay writer/director Bruce Robinson out of retirement in order to shoot The Rum Diary based on Hunter S. Thompson’s debut novel. The film hints at Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, particularly when Moburg introduces Kemp and Sala to LSD. However, Thompson’s supposed rage against American corporations muddling with pristine Puerto Rico falls flat. There is suggestion of it to be sure, but there isn’t a strong sense of it. Robinson and Depp pair up nicely for this film, however, one Depp feels Thompson would have been proud to see on the big screen.