Hard-drinking journalist Paul Kemp takes a job at a besieged newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His volatile editor, Lotterman, assigns him to tourist pieces and horoscopes, but promises more. Paul rooms with Sala, an aging and equally alcoholic reporter, in a rundown flat. Sanderson, a wealthy entrepreneur, hires Paul to flack for a group of investors who plan to buy an island near the capital and build a resort. Sanderson's girl-friend, the beguiling Chenault, bats her eyes at Paul. His loyalties face challenges when he and Sala get in trouble with locals, when a Carnival dance enrages Sanderson, and when the paper hits the skids. Is the solution always alcohol?Written by
Somewhere towards the end, the narrative of Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary loses faith in itself.
Up until this happened it felt so much more episodically close to its' novel adaptation, fast paced and fun but at a certain point the actors involved in The Rum Diary sort of start coming out of their characters.
Just an assumption, but Robinson's nostalgia for Terrance Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas must have been what forced him to gradually break away from his commitment to his own linear narrative. Throughout the first hour and a half we didn't have Hunter S Thompson narrating this story. And I don't think Robinson realized that until the last thirty minutes of the feature.
In Fear and Loathing Gilliam made a commitment to exploiting the drug abusing nature of HST. But Robinson couldn't do that as much in The Rum Diary and I think he wanted to, badly because that's what the last 30 minutes told me.
As much as Robinson wanted to make this journey through Puerto Rico hallucinogenic the novel he was trying to adapt didn't call for it. And all that from Fear and Loathing is probably what really inspired Robinson to direct The Rum Diary in the first place. So toward the end it's kind of like Robinson thought 'wait, we still haven't shown them enough surrealistic hallucinations narrated by Thompson so he tacked on another thirty minutes of a possible story line.
Up until that point we almost got somewhat of an authentic autobiographical epic of the late author obviously told from the perspective of someone besides. But that also meant by this point it was too late for the director to just suddenly turn over the narrative to Johnny Depp from behind the type writer of Thompson.
At this point I began to feel like the words coming out of Johnny Depp's mouth were not the words of HST.
If this was supposed to be a close adaptation to the book it didn't feel that way in the end.
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