Thereâ€™s something gratifying about the friendship that developed between author and infamous gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Depp. Maybe it’s because it’s easy to imagine Thompson spewing abuse at a Hollywood icon of Depp’s stature. Or maybe it’s because it gives Deppâ€™s fans the security that, yes, he really is kind of a weird guy in real life. Whatever it is, fans of Depp and Thompson should be grateful for The Rum Diary â€” both the book and the film.
Kemp meets a bizarre mix of people on the staff and elsewhere, from fast friend and co-conspirator Sala (Michael Rispoli) and the wildly poetic inebriate Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi) to sly and sleazy PR man Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). As Kemp gets lost in the local culture â€” and falls in lust with Sandersonâ€™s girlfriend (Amber Heard) â€” he tries to balance his own interests with those of his job, an invitation from Sanderson to a crooked development deal, and his dedication as a journalist.
As anyone familiar with Thompsonâ€™s work would expect, The Rum Diary is full of alcohol- and violence-fueled high jinks. A beautifully shot scene involving Kemp spitting fire on a group of would-be assailants from out of the sunroof of a moving car is particularly memorable and consistent with the sort of mayhem for which Thompson was known.
There are cockfights, a few hilariously haphazard car chases, and an arguably requisite scene involving liquid hallucinogens. All of it gives The Rum Diary that distinctive Thompson flourish and color, and makes the film much more entertaining. But we also see Kemp observing the perversity with which a group of American developers plan to deprive the native peopleâ€™s access to the beaches of their island with profitable, exclusive resort hotels.
Kemp watches with disgust as the schemers as well as his boss at the paper blithely ignore the increasing suffering of the locals, and in him, a fire starts. Itâ€™s in this disparity and Kempâ€™s resulting inner conflict that we get the heart of The Rum Diary. In that fire we see the root of what drives Kemp â€” and ultimately Thompson â€” to use his wits and words to slay the would-be giants in print. And in that initial quest to go after â€śthe bastards,â€ť we see the genesis of one of the most extraordinary 20th-century figures ever to put the pen to the page.
â€śThe Rum Diaryâ€ť is available starting Feb. 14 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
Â© 2012 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group