It’s the 60s. Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an American journalist who takes a freelance job in Puerto Rico with a strange bunch of misfits. He is taken under the wing of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a wealthy American who is working with a group of businessmen to develop an area of pristine beauty into a tourist resort. Kemp needs to decide between his conscience and his back pocket. And all the time, he is drinking a lot of strong liquor, and trying to avoid being killed by angry gangsters and angry cops.
Hunter S Thompson wrote The Rum Diaries in the sixties but it was only published in 1998. He was keen on it becoming a feature film, but he passed away in 2005. The Rum Diary was released in 2011.
It’s not fiction, but neither is it totally non-fiction. In a 1998 interview with Charlie Rose (see below), Thompson talks about all of the characters having some of his sensibilities in them. If you’ve seen or read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you can definitely see some element of him in Moberg, the severly alcoholic and drug-addled journalist portrayed marvelously by Giovanni Ribisi.
It’s certainly a funny film, with the dark humour I’ve come to expect from Thompson. I felt that it was meant to give me hope for the future, but the future of this film has passed and the world is just as corrupt as ever. And Thompson is gone – no longer putting the bastards of the world on notice that he does not have their best interests at heart.