THE RUM DIARY
Written and Directed by Bruce Robinson
Starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart and Amber Heard
Paul Kemp: I don’t know how to write like me.
Last fall, I heard some of the most ridiculous comparisons made when the Johnny Depp vehicle, THE RUM DIARY, tanked at the box office. The trades went off about whether or not Depp was washed up because his latest had brought in nowhere near what his PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN outings. Somehow it didn’t seem to occur to anyone that it might stand to reason that a small movie about a journalist who escapes to Puerto Rico in the 1960’s might not be able to take in the billion dollars the latest “Pirates” spectacular had. Sure, Depp stumbles around like he’s drunk in both of them but one of those movies has swords too. THE RUM DIARY didn’t stand a chance.
Expectations were reasonably high for THE RUM DIARY given Depp’s cult following for FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Both films are based on Hunter S. Thompson novels so the logic was that the support for the first film would spill over to the latest. The trouble with this rationale is that films about drug and booze addled messes don’t always connect in theatres, meaning home video time is THE RUM DIARY’s time to shine, right? Technically, yes, but the movie does have to be worth watching regardless. Under the direction of Bruce Robinson, who has not made a movie himself since 1992’s JENNIFER EIGHT, Depp’s second dance with Thompson is considerably tame, much less trippy and disastrous than one would expect.
THE RUM DIARY has a certain breeziness to it that make it a much better film to be screened at home than in cinemas. While in Puerto Rico, Depp’s Paul Kemp, gets caught up in excessive drinking, entangled with a woman who is already spoken for (Amber Heard, spoken for by Aaron Eckhart) and mixed up with a bunch of fat cats who want to get even fatter off the backs of the Puerto Rican people and their gorgeous landscape. It all amounts to a lot of meandering moments and conversations that ultimately bring Depp absolutely nowhere. Like that breeze, it passes through, can be somewhat enjoyable for a moment or too but once its gone, it’s forgotten.
Review copy provided by eOne.