Newest Reviews
True Don Quixote, The
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Rum Diary, The The BGs: Before Gonzo
Year: 2011
Director: Bruce Robinson
Stars: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi, Amaury Nolasco, Marshall Bell, Bill Smitrovich, Julian Holloway, Bruno Irizarry, Enzo Cilenti, Aaron Lustig, Tisuby González, Natalia Rivera, Karen Austin
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) has arrived in Puerto Rico and after the night he has had, he decides to swear off the booze, awakening in his hotel room and barely able to drag himself out of bed to open the door to room service. Noting the upended minibar, he explains to the employee that he was trying to open it to get some peanuts, which neither of them believe, and then it's time to eat breakfast, if he can keep it down, and face the day which means going to the offices of a local newspaper, as arranged, and seeing what work they have for him.

The fact the editor (a bewigged Richard Jenkins) puts him to work writing tourist puff pieces and horoscopes indicates that Kemp had not found his journalistic voice yet, so the rest of the movie amounted to whipping him into shape, that shape being the inimitable style of Hunter S. Thompson, on whose novel The Rum Diary was based. Star Depp was a friend of his and had encouraged him to publish this early "lost" novel, which had an unfortunate effect on the movie's chances when Thompson's fans who were delighted to read this book were equally disappointed with what adapter and director Bruce Robinson had done with it.

Even more of a letdown was that this was Robinson's first film at the helm after his Withnail & I had turned into a cult hit and led to Hollywood and the disaster of Jennifer 8, an experience so terrible that he had sworn off directing for the rest of his life. Depp had coaxed him back, and by all accounts it was a far better time for him, but if this apparent dream of mixing the disreputable laughs of Withnail with the gonzo journalism of Thompson promised more than it delivered, it was not a dead loss by any means. It simply belonged to a previous style of movie making, films like Our Man in Havana or The Ugly American, therefore it appeared curiously old-fashioned.

This in spite of the swearing and occasional drug use which you might have thought would bring out the best in Robinson's methods, but true laughs were thin on the ground. As for the political stuff, it was on surer footing as Kemp gets embroiled with expatriate Americans planning to exploit Puerto Rico for all it was worth, and the ethics of turning the locals into servants for the whites preyed on the mind of our hero, not to mention those locals themselves. Chief exponent of these plans was businessman Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), whose fiancée Chenault (Amber Heard) Kemp is attracted to but has to keep his mind on his work as Sanderson has asked him to write for him.

Even that, we are intended to see, is an abuse of Kemp's talents, and his new associate is played with sharklike lack of sympathy by Eckhart so is marked out as the enemy the writer should be targetting rather than messing about in directionless jobs typing piffle. Depp was also backed up by a neat character turn by Michael Rispoli as a glimpse into the possible future for Kemp, a warning he manages to avoid by the close of the story where his consciousness has been raised. Not so good was Giovanni Ribisi employing exactly the same approach to his role as in every other film he'd been in, the wacked-out, mush-mouthed, borderline nut which by this stage was growing less overfamiliar and more a downright distraction, but everyone else managed to work up a sense of place and attitude that came across as authentic. No, the source was not stuck to religiously, but if you could get over that "film out of time" feeling The Rum Diary wasn't so bad. Music by Christopher Young (a touch of class, actually).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2061 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: