The 2011 movie "Rum Diary" is a novel by Hunter S. Thompson, somewhat based upon his experiences as a writer in Puerto Rico. The line between fact and fiction are of course blurred in this adaptation of Thompson's novel which was not published until 1998 more than 30 years later. So much of the movie is about the main character traipsing through life partially hung-over from the night before slurping on mostly rum or whatever hard liquor is handy.
Much of this odd little movie reminded this reporter of other movies about the lives of writers, such as Henry Miller ("Henry and June" 1990) and Reinaldo Arenas ("Before Night Falls," 2000).
Ironically, Depp also appeared in the movie "Before Night Falls" and as movie goers know, Depp has an uncanny ability to be in independent or unusual films that only enhance his star quality. This movie "Rum Diary" is no exception. He makes the character of Paul Kemp, a drunken, down-on-his-luck reporter, seem not only hopeful but very likable.
Now there were some slow moments in the movie, but Depp's charm kept this reporter's attention. And, for all you journalists out there, this novel-turned-screen play has a lot to say about the business, even if by today's tech standards it is a bit dated.
The script has some clever quips of humor and the cast of actors who play the various parts do keep the story moving along. Amber Heard is stunning as the alluring love interest that get's Kemp's infatuated attention.
The movie has a style all its own. It does allude to some very difficult subjects but thanks to Depp's charisma it does not dwell too much on it. And, unlike other movies mentioned like "Before Night Falls" it does not get depressing. Depp wins the girl and as writer get's published.
I can see why Depp wanted to be in this movie. And to my surprise, I can see why Depp and the late writer Thompson were friends. Even if it is not my style to get drunk almost every day or to be insubordinate on the job, there is something interesting about Thompson. When I see photos of him as a young man, clean cut and like a surfer on the beach, then compare that with what he became later in life, my gut asks the question, "what happened?"
Gonzo journalist or not, what really happened to that bright young man, so full of promise? Thompson did make an impact, obviously but at such a price!
Johnny Depp fans will appreciate this movie and so will anyone interested in the controversial Hunter S. Thompson. Yes, the movie is but a novel, yet it is easy to see the person of Thompson in the character of Kemp. And, for me, Depp certainly makes the rogue-bastardy lush shimmer if not out right shine.