Paul Kemp is an American journalist who is struggling to find his voice. When he takes a job in beautiful sunny Puerto Rico he hopes that his life will turn around. He finds himself drinking heavily, writing horoscopes and trying to build himself a life. It all turns around when he meets Hal Sanderson and his beautiful girlfriend Chenault with whom he feels an instant connection. Paul struggles to maintain his professional and social life, all the while trying to find his own voice.
A well written, well balanced story based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson applied for a job at the real San Juan Star, just like the one portrayed in the movie. He made friends with the writers on staff and then wrote the novel based around them. This provided good source material for a film that deals a lot with substance abuse. Paul Kemp is an alcoholic who is denial, and finds himself dealing with the struggles of maintaining a normal life. The 60s atmosphere is captured; the unabashed lifestyle is well defined by the public drinking the inherent ability to light up a cigarette anywhere they chose. The lifestyle is much different then the modern era, but it very much came alive through the eccentricity of the characters.
Lead by the talented Johnny Depp, the cast does a marvellous job of giving breath to an era that has been over done in films. Ms.Heard is very sensual in her portrayal of Chenault, a natural beauty who catches the eye of every man as she enters the bar. Chenault catches the eye of a charismatic Paul Kemp, but their relationship is forbidden as she is dating Hal Sanderson. A tension builds between Kemp and Chenault, an undeniable connection is immediately established and it built through out the film.
The cast may have been the central factor in driving the feel of the era, but another big factor played an important role. The source material as touched on before is a unique style created by Thompson himself. Many of the works of fiction directly mirror the career of Thompson, of course the trouble and the absurdities Paul and his friends find themselves a part of may have been a bit over dramatized or over exaggerated, but the material and the realism was already there. This movie was based on a novel that was based on a real world situation; therefore the ground work for a successful film was already laid out.
With the sun soaked atmosphere of Puerto Rico at the ready, The Rum Diary takes a step beyond just being a dramatic story. There are scenes of crude behaviour and excessive drinking and drug use. This as well and every other work by Thompson is targeted at a very specific audience, therefore this film is definitely not for everyone. The excessive drinking and drug use is no stranger in films based on works by Hunter S. Thompson. The alcohol and drug use in this film is mild in comparison to Fear and Loathing, but it still has the willingness to show it.
The way the Rum Diaries is built is the exact foundation necessary to make a film that is adored by its audience. It is broken down into three acts: The introduction, Paul Kemp is first introduced to the island. The second act, his rise among the ranks of local well known men. And the third act, when his lifestyle and choices have real world consequences and he is forced to decide what is next.
The Rum Diary is a well done flick, the essentials are all present. Mr. Depp has successfully portrayed another work of Thompson with ease and efficiency. This cast was superb, The Rum Dairy is very enjoyable as a film. Have your own discretion when deciding whether or not to see, but I say it is well worth a viewing.