Getting The Rum Diary to both page and screen has been a real trip. Hunter S. Thompson wrote the book back in the 1960s, chronicling his adventures writin’ and boozin’ and livin’ down in Puerto Rico (as told through the eyes of his alter-ego “Paul Kemp”), but it was not published until 1998. A film adaptation has been kicked around since 2000, with the film ultimately lensing in 2009, though the film won’t be released until later this year.
Johnny Depp plays Kemp in the film, marking Depp’s second attempt at playing Thompson (or, more accurately, a Thompson-based character from the author’s own work), after turning in one of his best performances as the gonzo journalist in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas back in 1998. Depp again takes on his Thompson twang for another dip into the life of the icon. This time, drugs have been swapped for rum, the deserts of Vegas for the oceans of Puerto Rico. The Thompson follies will likely not abate, however.
The film also stars Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi, and Amaury Nolasco. Kick back, take a sip, and check out the trailer after the break.
The trailer has a great energy and a trajectory that relies more on Depp as a fish out of water and in over his head. It makes the film look miles more accessible than most other works based on Thompson properties, but with enough nods to drink and debauchery to keep Thompson’s fans still engaged.
Many have bemoaned some of Depp’s choices in roles as of late (myself among them), expressing annoyance at his repeated outings as Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and his recent no-duh signing on with Tim Burton’s Dark Shadowsadaptation. Though Depp’s The Lone Ranger is in a state of limbo, that bit of production kerfuffle, combined with what looks like a solid performance in Rum Diary, should remind moviegoers of the sort of roles that Depp excels in (not that drugged-up Disney dreck known as Pirates).
The Rum Diary opens on October 28.