© Wild Bunch/Central

The Rum Diary
U.S.A. 2011

Opening 2 Aug 2012

Directed by: Bruce Robinson
Writing credits: Bruce Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson
Principal actors: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins

American journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) writes for a newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There are heated arguments between him and his editor Littermann (Richard Jenkins); soon the paper will close down. Life on the island is as exotic as one would imagine – at least for the rich such as Sanderson (Aaron Eckhardt), who is helping investors buy an island off the coast. On the other hand, poor journalists and natives live in huts and cramped quarters. Kemp shares a run-down apartment with an older journalist, Sala (Michael Rispoli). The two most interesting characters are Sala’s pet parrot and a voodoo lady who sees the future. The plot is not as important as the general atmosphere of life in San Juan in 1950. Alcohol is a constant companion, good for celebrating successes and drowning sorrows. Kemp falls in love with Sanderson’s girlfriend Chenault (Amber Heard – a fast runner on high heels much like Amanda Seyfried in the film In Time).

Hunter S. Thompson wrote the original book which served as a script for the film. As a journalist he lived in San Juan and wrote for El Sportivo in 1960; it can be assumed that much of the narrative is autobiographical. The book, although written in 1960, was first published in 1998, after Thompson finally because famous as well as notorious. By then he had made his mark writing for the new Rolling Stone magazine, and he had published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Actor Johnny Depp, a loyal friend, also played in the filmed version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Depp financed Thompson’s funeral, which he had minutely planned out before shooting himself in 2005: a monument would be built; a cannon would be mounted into the monument and the ashes of the deceased would be shot into the air. And that’s what happened according to reports in the press. This low budget film by director Bruce Robinson has already been financially successful in the U.S., probably I would say, due to the attraction of Johnny Depp and the infamous Thompson. (Becky Tan)

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