The Rum Diary (2011)
Sick of the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and all the hoopla of 50s America, Paul Kemp (AKA, Hunter S Thompson) moves to Puerto Rico to write for a newspaper and experience a more authentic life. Mostly he just sinks into alcoholism, and an obsession with a beautiful woman (Amber Heard) who is the wife to be of wealthy financier named Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). The clueless but opportunistic Sanderson seeks to wine and dine Kemp in order to get him to write favorably about his new development projects on a previously pristine stretch of island. This was the first (and unpublished) novel of Hunter S. Thompson, and its youthful naivete shines here in this tale of a young reporter caught between his journalistic duty to the truth, and boatloads of cash and sex (and free booze) for him to simply set them aside.
This may make me have to turn in my badge of artistic taste/merit, but of the two movies that have been made in which Johnny Depp has played Hunter S. Thompson (or his alter ego which he used for his writings), this is the one which I enjoyed more. Maybe it’s just because I’m an old square but I enjoyed this story of Thompson, in his young impressionable years, fighting against a rich corrupting influence more than I enjoyed a tale of an older, wilder Thompson doing every drug imaginable a few decades later. I may even admit that while Fear and Loathing is both the superior novel and film, this is the one that will get the most repeated viewings from me. Aaron Eckhart is great as the millionaire playboy. Depp, who is a little old to play a “young” anybody, nevertheless still captures the essence of his late friend perfectly, and Amber Heard does a great job of looking like Amber Heard. Richard Jenkins, one of my perennial favorite character actors is also fine as the rundown newspaper editor just trying to hold his own. The movie may be uneven, but it’s not unenjoyable.