The Rum Diary (2011) – Film Review
by Joss Spry
Set in picturesque 1960’s Puerto Rico, The Rum Diary finds Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) bumbling around in pursuit of a journalism career. Except he’s driven to distraction by the titular booze, improbable scrapes and a beautiful girl. And that’s about it, really.
The plot, such as it is, is merely an excuse for Depp to spend a couple of hours looking good and learning life lessons. Which is not what you pull the director of Withnail And I out of virtual retirement for.
The film is something of a labour of love for its producer and star. And it shows. Although sadly, not i a good way. Based on an early work by his friend, the late, great Hunter S Thompson, The Rum Diary manages to be both aimless and conventional. It would have been immeasurably better as an irreverent and anarchic romp.
Whilst it’s certainly handsomely mounted and Depp is watchable and plays with commendable restraint, it’s essentially let down by a lack of any real drama. Frankly, the whole thing ends up dragging somewhat. And that’s something you could never say about a Hunter S. Thompson book.