In “The Rum Diary”, Johnny Depp once again wears the patent-leather loafers of Hunter S. Thompson, creator of Gonzo journalism. But this time, Depp lives through Thompson’s younger years as Paul Kemp.
“The Rum Diary” recalls a brief period around 1960 in which the 22-year-old Thompson worked for a small newspaper in Puerto Rico. The story is told with Kemp as the protagonist. During this period in Cuban history, the island was on the verge of transformation into a glamorous vacation destination. The story includes all the dirt of a good story: treachery, violence and sex amongst the Americans staffing the newspaper.
Kemp becomes obsessed with beauty Chenault (played by Amber Heard), the buxom East coast-born fiance of Aaron Eckharts’s character, Sanderson. Sanderson represents the American entrepreneurs who, during the 60’s, were determined to convert Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise for the wealthy. Here, the main conflict of the film presents itself when Sanderson recruits Kemp to promote his unsavory get-rich scheme; should he join the corrupt group of business men, or, bring them down.
Writer-Director, Bruce Robinson, did a fantastic job of adapting the classic novel into a film. In the tradition of Thompson, the film is a mind-bend, ala Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. ” The Rum Diary” is tons of fun and well worth the price of a date-night. There is no other actor that can play Thompson, or any Thompson character. The fact they were such close friends, coupled with Depp’s uncanny ability to “become” the roles he plays make for a great performances. Have a drink or two and a good meal, and get ready for a wild ride. Be sure to tell us which of the two films you enjoyed more.