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  • Writer's pictureSteve

The Rum Diary (2011)

Didn't you just want to be the pilot of that little red biplane, coasting and gliding over the vast, sparkling blue ocean with the sound of Dean Martin crooning 'Volare' in your ears? Aah bliss. Then, like the proverbial bad landing, reality strikes.

"Oh my god. Why did she have to happen? When I was doing so well without her."

I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for Hunter S Thompson, the man was a well oiled literary marvel. At his heights, he was what we all aspire to be, original and fiercely unpredictable. He wrote life just the way he lived it, with close reigned anarchy and darting, bluebottle cynicism wrapped in a barbed wire front of psychotic, unparalleled reality.

And Johnny Depp is just the man for the role of Paul Kemp, a freelance journalist just off the plane, working for a newspaper in Puerto Rico that is running purely on booze, goodwill and good luck. In danger of being blissfully biographical in content, The Rum Diary is a carefully constructed alcohol soaked joyride.

Kemp is an unpublished novelist, struggling to write from his heart, to find his voice and this is just the psychological full stop to make Kemp affable, easy going and prone to opportunistic flights of suggestion from others. This careless and often sodden approach to life in general leads Kemp to a host of interesting places, with people that are alluring for many different reasons.

Puerto Rico is both sordid and frenetic at times and yet at others, a peaceful unspoilt paradise. Kemp experiences everything that the country has to offer, and not usually with a clear head. Inevitably, as is Thompson's usual wont, things eventually turn hallucinogenic, giving Kemp a whole new outlook on his perception of existence.

A great cast of supporting players including Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins and Amber Heard make this an all round enjoyable semi-autobiographical drug and booze soaked bender. It's all over the place, to be sure, but that is homage to Thompson's eclectic style. It's no Fear & Loathing, lacking its balls deep intensity, but nevertheless, great unpredictable fun.


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