The Rum Diary

“Let us leave this confusion and all this illusion behind,” swoons Dean Martin in the opening credits to The Rum Diary as a plane weaves through the sky. Enter Johnny Depp as wayward American journalist Paul Kemp waking up in his Puerto Rico hotel room after a night of too many cocktails.
The movie, based on the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson, follows main character Kemp as he writes for the San Juan Star under the spotty leadership of editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins) in the 1950s. He meets and bonds with photographer Sala (Michael Rispoli) and an alcoholic religion and crime reporter Moburg, played by Giovanni Ribisi.

Kemp’s purpose of being in Puerto Rico is a bit of a mystery as he spends his time writing horoscopes for the Star by day and exploring some of the darker side of the island with Sala and Moburg by night.
Kemp tries to almost make a life there as well, rubbing elbows with business-savvy Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) on a development proposal.
But does he want to live the high life by not always following the rules, or continue to write for a struggling paper and expose the real story?
I didn’t read The Rum Diary before I chose to see the movie, but when I do pick up the novel know I will enjoy matching the moving images of the story with Hunter S. Thompson’s words.

Depp’s performance is honest and humorous and the cast of characters help create the “illusion and confusion” referenced by Mr. Martin as Kemp tries to find his purpose on the island and in life.

Rispoli and Ribisi play Kemp’s sidekicks well and Aaron Eckhart, while I’m not a big fan, is a perfect match for Sanderson’s slightly villainous character.
Starlet Amber Heard as Chenault is the final piece to Kemp’s purpose puzzle. Does he find romance on the island, or not?
I saw this movie a week ago today and feel it is one I could watch at any time, on any day. Of course the story focus on a journalist (and Johnny Depp as the main actor) drew me in, but I stayed for the escape into another life and another world. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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