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The Rum Diary
Director: Bruce Robinson
Cast: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins
One can hardly imagine a better combination than actor Johnny Depp and writer Hunter S Thompson to tell the story about a journalist who gets sucked into the 1960 Puerto Rico of drinks, drugs and destruction. The Rum Diary gets the latter half all right; what is missing is the story-telling.
So caught up is Robinson in creating the atmosphere that the film careens from one episode to another of rich guys trying to carve up a natural paradise without ever seeming like it wants to tell that story. It only seems incidental to all that one can do, all one can drink, and all the exotica one can experience in Puerto Rico. Even the growing tension between the locals and the rich Americans is just a footnote.
Depp is a writer who has joined the San Juan paper edited by Jenkins as a journalist to pay his bills. He is originally assigned to do horoscopes and cover bowling alleys, in a paper that specialises in finding unique combinations for its reporters.
Rispoli is the photo journalist who rears birds for cockfights as hobby. Eckhart is a former journalist who now does a business that allows him to buy boats, a private beach and to keep a tortoise with shell covered in diamonds as pet, while Heard is his pretty fiancee who sunbathes in the nude with the "natives" watching. Then there is Giovanni Ribisi, the on-off reporter who concocts his drugs and liquor.
Eckhart tries to get Depp for his writing skills. Depp goes in all ears and comes out all eyes, all of them on Heard. She is the poor little rich girl after all.
In the midst of all this, Puerto Rico happens.