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Depp delves back into Thompson's tales


J. James Gagne | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 13th, 2012



The Rum Diary (2011)

Back in 1998, then-rising star Johnny Depp made a splash in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a madcap, frenetic cult hit based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Thirteen years later, Depp once again explores the work of Thompson in The Rum Diary, a film with some of the same elements — with a little bit of political intrigue and cockfighting thrown in for good measure.

Paul Kemp (Depp) is a big-city journalist who moves to Puerto Rico and lands a job at the San Juan Star, a failing newspaper staffed by journalists who spend more time at the bar than in front of their typewriters. Despite his claims to the contrary, Kemp is no different, and makes short work of the mini-bar in his hotel room.

Despite his problems, it isn't long until Kemp is offered a second writing gig. Kemp meets Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a slimy businessman who sees dollar signs everywhere he looks in Puerto Rico. Sanderson and a larger group of businessmen that he is connected with are looking into turning the island into a thriving capitalist centre, one shady land deal at a time. They want Kemp for his literary skills, convinced he can spin these developments in a way that won't upset the locals.

Kemp must decide if he wants to go the safe route and earn a lucrative payday or expose the charlatans and risk his livelihood. Along the way, he downs his fair share of rum, attends a cockfight or two and falls in love with Chenault (Amber Heard), Sanderson's beautiful fiancée.

The Rum Diary is a movie that was unfortunately lost in the shuffle at the box office, but hopefully, like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, will enjoy a stronger second life when it hits home video market February 14. Depp, who lately seems to be alternating between Captain Jack Sparrow and films directed by his favourite collaborator Tim Burton, shows that he is not simply a big-time movie star — he is a terrific performer. So pour yourself a glass of Captain Morgan (you are 19, right?), and prepare to enjoy yourself watching The Rum Diary, a fun and intelligent film.

Rating: 4 out of 5
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