‘The Rum Diary’ worth writing home about

Lauren J. Mapp, Features Editor

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The Rum Diary – the newest film from writer and director Bruce Robinson based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel – has all the booze, dark comedy and lust to ensure it will be a sure hit with diverse audiences this fall.

The story begins with a panoramic shot of a beautiful island before centering on freelance journalist Paul Kemp (played by Johnny Depp) as he wakes up in a state of confusion somewhere between intoxication and a hangover.

Kemp arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico to pick up a writing job at The Daily News as a means to inspire his novel writing career. Instead of the hard-hitting news stories that he would prefer, Kemp is instead assigned to write horoscopes and fluff pieces about the multitude of bowling alleys in the city.

After ringing up an outrageous hotel bill from mini bottles of liquor, Kemp moves in with fellow journalists Sala (played by Michael Rispoli) and Moburg (played by Giovanni Ribisi). Sala acts as a sidekick to Kemp, following him around on his sordid adventures and showing him the grungy parts of the island.

The drunken Moburg staggers on and off the screen sporadically, each time bringing with him rum filters full of pure alcohol, unnamed hallucinogens and a side of laughs.

Love is in the air after Kemp happens upon what he thinks is a “mermaid,” but what in fact is a blond, Connecticut-bred beauty by the name of Chenault (played by Amber Heard). She becomes his sole interest throughout the film, despite the fact that he is working on a sketchy business plan with her rich boyfriend Sanderson (played by Aaron Eckhart).

Sanderson has the dream life that Kemp craves: a house on the beach, a gorgeous girlfriend, a bright red sports car and what seems to be an infinite amount of money.

Over the course of the film, Kemp begins to decide whether financial stability is his main goal as a writer or if he would rather tell the real story of how the people of Puerto Rico are suffering from poverty. Every time he brings in a hard-hitting news story, however, his boss Lotterman (played by Richard Jenkins) rejects it.

Depp brings his quirky facial expressions and dynamic acting abilities back to the screen as he brings Thompson’s The Rum Diary character Paul Kemp to life.

The Rum Diary shows the classic paradox between following your heart and doing what you truly want to do and doing what it takes to pay the bills. The screenplay’s dialogue is full of quick and intelligent wit that will make audiences roar with laughter.