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The Rum Diary: Nothing to write home about

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: , ,
 
Starring: , ,
 
Directed By:
 
Studio:
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Release Date: October 28, 2011
 
Length: 120 minutes
 
Directing
6.0


 
Plot
4.0


 
Acting
7.0


 
Cinematography
9.0


 
Total Score
6.5
6.5/ 10


 

Whoa


Beautifully filmed, the movie comes off as a credible period piece and captures what Puerto Rico must have been like in the early 1960s.

No


Its beautiful scenery is not enough to salvage a story that goes nowhere (written in 1959, the novel wasn’t published until the 1990s because of a lack of interest).


Bottom Line

A movie filled with sex, drugs, alcohol, intrigue, and pretty people shouldn’t leave an audience bored to distraction.

0
Posted November 1, 2011 by

 
Full Review
 
 

Even though 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Terry Gilliam’s visually stunning and stylized film based on the Hunter S. Thompson book by the same name, was ultimately flawed, we thought we’d give The Rum Diary, also based on a Thompson novel and again starring Johnny Depp, a chance. In it, Depp portrays Paul Kemp, a Thompson alter-ego, with markedly less affectation.

Paul is a reporter with great aspirations who ends up at a floundering newspaper in Puerto Rico. He immediately butts heads with his editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins), an idealist who has given up on any kind of integrity and accepted the fact that he can’t print negative stories in a newspaper designed to cater to American tourists. So Paul befriends Sala (Michael Rispoli), the paper’s outcast photographer, and the two end up tearing around the island in his beat-up car.

The plot takes a twist when Paul meets Chenault (Amber Heard), the girlfriend of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a wealthy developer that offers Paul an exclusive, if somewhat shady, deal from his developer pals. Paul accepts, but his conscience, his drinking, and his attraction to Chenault cause him to fall far short of expectations and Sanderson ultimately fires him and cuts off his fringe benefits (like use of the fancy red Corvette). Things go from bad to worse when the floundering paper’s economic problems escalate, and Paul comes to the realization that he’s got to find a way out of the country.

Beautifully filmed, the movie comes off as a credible period piece and captures what Puerto Rico must have been like in the early 1960s. And it gives Depp a second chance at a more nuanced performance in a Thompson vehicle than his caricature in Fear and Loathing. But the scenery is not enough to salvage a story that goes nowhere (written in 1959, the novel wasn’t published until the 1990s because of a lack of interest).  Colorful ancillary characters such as Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi), a fellow journalist who has lost touch with reality, don’t add anything to the storyline. And the dramatic tensions between Paul and Sanderson and Paul and Chenault are so weak that they’re hardly enough to drive the plot. Ultimately a movie filled with sex, drugs, alcohol, intrigue, and pretty people  shouldn’t leave an audience bored to distraction.


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