The Rum Diary
This review was written to coincide with the 7-year anniversary of Hunter S. Thompson's death on February 20, 2005. I watched the film The Rum Diary last night, and I thought the timing was right.
In 1959, Thompson was 22-years old when he began writing The Rum Diary. Published in 1998, The Rum Diary serves as Thompson's only novel. Bruce Robinson's film remains true to Thompson's story. The film stars Kentucky native Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Texas actress Amber Heard and Aaron Eckhart. The story revolves around American journalist Paul Kemp taking a job at a newspaper in Puerto Rico. Kemp struggles to find his own writing voice in Puerto Rico as he is surrounding by destructive distractions on all sides.
The alcohol-drenched characters operate amid lush landscapes of pristine beaches, virgin woods and dangerous chicken shacks. The film's music ties the scenes together well. Thompson's images of Richard Nixon, cockfighting, carnivals, Samuel Coleridge, voodoo and oracles of the dead drift through these scenes. Some of Kemp's final words in the film resonate after all these years: "This place smells like bastards...smells like the truth...smells like ink."
A tip of the hat to Dr. Gonzo...