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Johnny Depp Pours Himself Into His New Film, “The Rum Diary”

Johnny Depp gives an “intoxicating” performance in the adaptation of the late Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, “

The Rum Diary.” The film set in 1960s San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Depp’s character, Paul Kemp a failed novelist travels to Puerto Rico to try his hand at journalism at a small paper, “The San Juan Star.”

Depp came across the book in Thompson’s basement while researching him for his role in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He pushed for the book to be printed in 1998, then onto the silver screen, finally after a decade of swapping producers and actors the long awaited film is due in theaters today.

The film begins with Kemp waking up in a hotel with a serious hangover, drinking some rum, then heading to meet his new editor, Lotterman (Richard Jennings), the comical, underachieving editor who is not only losing the paper, but also his hair.

Kemp moves into a seedy apartment with his new friends and co-workers, Sala (Michael Rispoli), the fun-loving photographer and Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi), the drunken Nazi enthusiast. The first 45 minutes is spent watching Kemp and his friends drink rum and gallivant around San Juan with Sala. Soon, Kemp begins to see the squalor of many of the people in San Juan.

The realization that that the pristine image of Puerto Rico that he imagined is not real he becomes motivated to write articles that could inform the world, but Lotterman focused on advertisements discourages him.

Things get tricky when businessman, Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) wants Kemp to write positive reviews on a local land development schemes. Sanderson is a man does not mind using his fiancée, Chenault (Amber Heard), to tangle Kemp into a melting pot of ambition, corruption and greed.

There is a lot of rum – Kemp and friends drink it as if it is water – and crude, but funny jokes, which an audience can enjoy throughout the film, but the movie leaves some questions unanswered. We never get a detailed description about what happens next for Kemp, he steals a boat without any interference even though it’s a private beach. Then, while Chenault, Sanderson, Kemp and friends are in St. Thomas for Carnival she disappears, only to show up randomly, but we don’t know what’s happened to her.

The movie has great cinematography, an A-list cast and Bruce Robinson at the helm, writing and directing, but the sluggish pace takes away from the experience.

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