Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Rum Diary

(Left to Right) Giovanni Ribisi, Johnny Depp, and Michael Rispoli in "The Rum Diary"

*** out of ****

I really enjoyed this one.

Don't expect "Fear and Loathing".

What makes "The Rum Diary" incredibly different from the over-sensory zaniness of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and appropriately different from the Landis-inspired bad comedy of "Where the Buffalo Roam", is how objectively realistic this film feels even thought it is telling embellished tales of misadventure.

There is only one scene I can think of where the filmmaking seems to be under the influence with it's characters. Like Hunter S. Thompson's writing, it is disjointed and episodic. You should go into this one expecting something that is trying to transport you to a time and place. This is a film that is strong on atmosphere.

Bruce Robinson hadn't made a film in almost two decades and was a rather fitting choice by Depp and Co. to get this long awaited project off the ground.

Johnny Depp delivers a very different version of the Hunter S.  character than we have come to expect. This is a younger less judgemental man who is easily distracted by luxury. This portrayal of his character has it's fault with the film when it involves his obsession with a beautiful yet underdeveloped love interest played by Amber Heard. As soon as she is onscreen the score shifts to a romantic theme which seems like a little much for this cynical movie. It doesn't work since there's nothing in the script to suggest that the main character's attraction is anything more than one of lust. Amber Heard just has a screen presence that begs for a classic hollywood tone. Wrong movie.

The cast is great all the way through. Richard Jenkins is an angry and inept newspaper editor. Aaron Eckhart is a greedy entrepreneur. Michael Rispoli plays an alcoholic yet energetic photographer.  Giovanni Ribisi plays a character so foul, we're thankful we can't smell him because if we could we could we wouldn't laugh as much.

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