The Rum Diary

(2011)

Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Review: The Rum Diary

Transcript for Review: The Rum Diary

 

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
 
Our next film, THE RUM DIARY has quite a pedigree. For one thing, it's adapted from an autobiographical novel by Hunter S. Thompson, and it stars Johnny Depp -- just like the cult classic FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. And it's written and directed by Bruce Robinson, the man behind another towering cult classic, WITHNAIL & I. THE RUM DIARY is set in the early 1960s. Depp stars as Paul Kemp, a failed novelist who washes up at the San Juan Star, an English-language newspaper in Puerto Rico. Like most of his coworkers, he does more drinking than reporting. After stealing a paddle boat, Kemp meets Chenault, played by Amber Heard.
 
It just so happens that Kemp has business with that boyfriend, a sleazy PR man played by Aaron Eckhart.
 
There isn't much in the way of a plot, but that doesn't really matter, because Bruce Robinson writes rich, punchy dialogue and really knows how to direct actors and create a subtle, hungover atmosphere. This very funny, keenly-observed movie meanders in the best way possible, moving from one misadventure to another while constantly developing its many eccentric characters. It's hard to believe that this is Robinson's first movie in almost twenty years. This is a big thumbs up from me.
 
CHRISTY:
This is a big thumbs down for me, because it meanders; the thing you like about it I think is a huge problem from a narrative standpoint because its just too languid, the series of these moments with no real momentum and nothing really at stake. I mean who cares about this thing that Johnny Depp is getting potentially embroiled in.  
 
IGNATIY:
I don’t think it’s supposed to matter.  I think the film is intended to be episodic.  I think it is supposed to be just a series of these little vignettes like you know they go to the voodoo doctor, they go to a cock fight…
 
CHRISTY:
They’re on a boat.  They’re in a car. 
 
IGNATIY:
Yeah yeah it’s…
 
CHRISTY:
Some are better than others.
 
IGNATIY:
Yeah, and it’s just supposed to be these little scenes with these characters.  I think the conspiracy or you know the building of the hotel that he gets embroiled in, I think it’s just something that serves as connective tissue.
 
CHRISTY:
Okay, but at the same time Johnny Depp as an observant, responsive conduit for the narrative is not the best use of him at all. Because I know he’s doing a dialed down version of Hunter S. Thompson here.
 
IGNATIY:
Yeah, it’s…it’s true.  This is very different from his performance in “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas,” which is very, very over the top.  He’s almost playing a cartoon of Hunter S. Thompson there.  Here he is playing a much more subdued character--someone who seems much more normal.
 
CHRISTY:
But it’s kind drag I mean there are the scenes with Amber Heard, who is stunning in this with this very old school kind of Grace Kelly glamour  to her.  Those scenes have a sexy verve to them.  I would have liked to see more of throughout the rest of the movie.
 
IGNATIY:
Is that the only thing you liked? I mean did you…
 
CHRISTY:
Some fun moments with the photographer and paper.
 
IGNATIY: What about Giovanni Ribisi? I mean…I…
 
CHRISTY:
Oh my God it’s so over the top.  It’s so ridiculously cheesy and actorly.
 
IGNATIY:  
It’s not...look I…I don’t think it’s…It is really actorly, but I, let me tell you the truth, I can’t think of another performance that line for line has made me laugh harder this year than…
 
CHRISTY:
It is so distracting and so not at all what the rest of the movie in terms of tone.
 
IGNATIY:
But I think, no, I think the fact it is tonally so outrageous I think it works.
 
CHRISTY:
It doesn’t make any sense at all.
 
IGNATIY:
Oh, it’s great.