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The Rum Diary [Celluloid Hero]


The Rum Diary (2011)


While Johnny Depp was making “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, he developed a great friendship with writer Hunter S. Thompson. During this friendship, Depp was digging around Thompson’s house and found an unreleased manuscript. This manuscript became “The Rum Diary”, and is (at least in spirit) a prequel to “Fear and Loathing.”

Both “Fear and Loathing” and “The Rum Diary” are autobiographical accounts of Thompson’s life. Both stories use pseudonyms for the main characters but the events are true tales of Thompson’s career, at least as seen through his intoxicated eyes.

I was very impressed with the acting from every character, from the leads to the supporting cast. Depp excelled as usual as Paul Kemp. Aaron Eckhart fit his role of Sanderson, a slimy businessman, and Amber Heard was distractingly gorgeous as Chenault. Kemp’s sidekicks Sala (Michael Rispoli) and Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi) were great, and Ribisi has impressed me in everything I’ve seen him in.

Despite the great acting, I felt like the story itself never really kicked into gear. Characters were introduced, the plot was explained, but nothing really happened to push the story forward until the third act, and by that point I was already feeling a bit flat. The ending was able to redeem the preceding events and wrap the movie up with a nice moment.

The interesting thing is that Johnny Depp produced this movie himself. I don’t believe he made it for critical or commercial approval; I think he really just wanted to honor his close friend and turn his story into another movie. With that in mind, I can forgive the plotline and appreciate exceptional acting, and enjoy what seemed to really be a labor of love.


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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “The Rum Diary” gets a 6 out of 10.

[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he’ll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below. CLICK HERE for the Celluloid Hero archives]

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