I’m going to be the voice of the people and that voice will be ink and rage.
So I just finished watching the 2011 film The Rum Diary starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, and Amber Heard. This is Depp’s second go around as a the main part in a film based on the works of Hunter S. Thompson, the first being Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
When I picked this one up I was expecting another go around in the twisted drug addled alcohol fueled mind of Thompson and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.
The story revolves around journalist Paul Kemp as he transfers into work at a newspaper in Puerto Rico in the early ’60s. First arriving in, he tells his new boss Richard Jenkins that he’s a upper end social drinker planning on cutting back. Puerto Rico is really not the best place to try to cut back.
The alcohol flows and little reporting is actually done till Paul is approached by hotel mogul Hal Sanderson, Eckhert, who asks Paul to help him and his business associates to write up some articles for the paper to help gt the locals warmed up to the idea of building a new hotel on one of the nearby islands that has until then been owned and used for training by the US Navy.
Paul’s coworker and staff photographer Sala (Michael Rispoli) along with another coworker, Moberg (Ribisi), do their best to try to get Paul to avoid working with Sanderson due to his being a known crook. It’s hard to pull Paul away however due mostly I. Part to Sanderson’s girlfriend Chenault (Heard) being quite the flirty vixen.
There are slow parts to the film. A lot of slow parts, but the story is really interesting and overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and will probably watch it again sometime soon. The characters are interesting and the writing is quite good.
The book scribed by Thompson is near the top of my list to read soon and after watching this film has moved up a bit higher on the list.
My favorite character in this film was Ribisi’s Moberg. He is to Rum Diary what Depp was to Fear and Loathing. The drug addled alcoholic who writes when he feels like it and survives by the edge of his nails. It’s not a pretty site but it works gloriously. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Ribisi but he was a welcome site in top form. Moberg is the religious corespondent for the paper who happens to have many connections around the island that re helpful to Paul more often than not. He’s jut not that reliable since he’s ruined mot of his mind with rum. Not to mention the fact that he and Sala have a spinning machine they use to spin stolen filters from the rum factories to extract what they claim to be 463 proof rum. Very flammable and very very capable of destroying brain cells and inhibitions.
Depp had a few moments where he jumped back into the Gonzo shoes he wore so well in Fear and Loathing and Eckhert was in rare form as the corrupt bastard Sanderson. Heard has also begun to prove herself as a surprisingly strong actress since I first saw her as Seth Rogen’s girlfriend in Pineapple Express.
Paul eventually comes to realize the bad circles he’s come to be swimming around in and begins to find himself as a writer and decides to stand up for the people becoming their voice. The voice made of ink and rage.
All in all, I believe it’s much better than the mediocre ratings other reviews have given this film. But like many films that deal with corporate bastards and foreign affairs, you’ll either like it or hate it. It’s a fine line and this movie walks that line hard.