Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Rum Diary.

Hunter S Thompson was an American writer who started life as a journalist and went on to write various best selling novels. He is credited as the originator of what became known as gonzo journalism, an exaggerated form of reportage where the writer becomes part of the story via a first person narrative. His other claim to fame is his excessive use of drugs and alcohol, which inadvertently led to him sadly committing suicide in 2005 at the age of 67. There had been two feature films based around his work, the first of which Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) starred Bill Murray as Thompson, the second Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) was directed by Terry Gilliam and this time Thompson’s friend Johnny Depp portrayed the journalist.

Richard Jenkins.
After a hiatus of nineteen years Bruce Robinson, who was responsible for Withnail & I (1987), was brought in to write the screenplay and direct The Rum Diary (2011), which was based on Thompson’s novel of the same name. Written in the 1960’s it was not published until 1998.  This time Johnny Depp not only starred in the film but also took on the function of producer. He plays the role of Thompson’s alter ego Paul Kemp a journalist who in 1960 moved from New York to San Juan in Puerto Rico to work on a daily newspaper and found him embroiled with some very unscrupulous US entrepreneurs.  

Giovanni Ribisi.
Lovingly shot on location in San Juan, the strength of this movie is in its very clever use of both verbal and perceived humour and the brilliantly drawn characters played by a superb cast: Richard Jenkins as the newspapers editor Lotterman, Michael Rispoli as Bob Sala news photographer and Kemps room mate and Giovanni Ribisi who steals ever scene he’s in as the substance abusing and Hitler loving Moberg. Depp’s love interest, there always is one, is the beautiful Scarlett Johansson look alike Amber Heard.   Johnny Depp executes his lines with great panache and really gives the impression that he is enjoying playing his role almost as much as this viewer enjoyed watching the film.

Mr Depp and love interest Amber Heard.

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