REVIEW: The Rum Diary

Any film featuring Johnny Depp on-screen is going to bring great excitement to critics, film fanatics and amongst others which generally leads to exceedingly high expectations. Plus, in The Rum Diary there were other possibilities that could make it become something worthwhile to fully enjoy and get a lot of fun out of due to the settings of the film, cinematography and with a story that could have been a good laugh and to get a lot of enjoyment from. However, after watching it, it’s as plain and dry as a plank of wood, but it wasn’t entirely awful to watch.

In all honesty, you need to be in the right frame of mind to go into this and understand it for what it is, but the aspects within the film feature comedy, drama and romance. It perhaps isn’t classed as a comedy, but of what we witnessed in the trailer there was bound to be something humourous about it, but it was not even funny in the slightest. In every film, there has to be at least a little emotion but in the case of The Rum Diary, there was almost nothing exciting, ground-breaking or thought-provoking at all about it, so it really lacked a heart and soul with a solid ending featuring a meaningful message.

Johnny Depp in a leading role is always exciting to see, but from a personal perspective, The Rum Diary just wasn’t for him for a variety of reasons. Kemp is a middle-aged man who is stuck in between his destiny and his destruction, and what this film is about is to discover what is most important of the two and what must be done to achieve it. Quite frankly, where this character flops is that we aren’t entirely sure whether Kemp is deep down a low-life or somebody who takes life seriously. Plus, whether he is quite a dangerous individual as well regarding his constant lust to drink despite being cautioned beforehand. Speaking of which, Depp drinking rum, where have we seen that before? Perhaps in a series of films where he bought forth a character and performance that has made him the iconic Hollywood actor that he is, so on a positive side it was good to see Depp acting in that familiar style of acting underneath a new character and style of film. Despite that one positive concept of his role, it is definitely Depp’s weakest performance in quite a long time.

After his breakthrough yet underrated role as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, Aaron Eckhart makes a supporting appearance as local businessman Sanderson, who is the friend then soon-to-be nemesis of Kemp due to their mutual love for Chenault. Only by looking at Eckhart in this film, all you can see is Harvey Dent and because Sanderson is a rather plain and a character who we have seen countless times in many films over the years, his character simply did not work either. Amber Heard seriously is very easy on the eyes but not all that easy on the ears as she portrays Sanderson’s girlfriend and Kemp’s love interest, Chenault. There’s just a conflicted love triangle between them that doesn’t really leave you with anything in the end, and is just felt totally abandoned. There were no sparks or romantic chemistry between Chenault and neither Sanderson nor Kemp. Michael Rispoli was definitely the best actor from the film and gives a good performance as Sala, who is a drunken alcoholic who is well-intentioned deep down but always runs into trouble and all hell breaks loose with him. Rispoli portrays a scruffy alcoholic impressively, and as a result, deserves a thumbs-up for his role.

Bruce Robinson, who is perhaps only best known as the director and screenwriter of Withnail & I and the screenwriter of The Killing Fields in 1984, returns to direct only his fourth feature film in his entire career. Although, there isn’t much to experience from him due to the short filmography, he could’ve returned after 19 years and given us a film that could have become an Oscar contender, but it wasn’t to be. As for the screenplay, it could have been a lot better than it turned out and it was filled with clichéd and cheesy lines. Robinson could become a good film director if he improvises and goes on to make better films than this one in the future.

Overall, The Rum Diary is a rather flat and empty film that is almost heartless with no meaning or message and no chemistry between the characters, and for this reason, it is perhaps the most disappointing film of 2011 thus far. If you have read the novels of the late Hunter S. Thompson, you might be able to gain an understanding of the story (like Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas which also starred Johnny Depp), but personally if you’ve read the book but not seen the film, you might be disappointed. Just like the film as a whole, it could’ve been something really interesting with emotion, romance and comedy but I think due to the lack of performance from the actors, it failed.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 15/05/2012.

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