The main-stream movie trying to make itself look hipster: a quirky actor, exotic locale, era which most people know little about but manage to feel nostalgic for anyway.
That’s really all there might be to like about The Rum Diary, and it also sums up everything there is not to like about it. Granted, I haven’t read the original text by Hunter S. Thompson, and that might be what’s screwing things up for me. But the Rum Diary, while admittedly flashy, seems to be a lot of posturing with very little substance. It flirts with the idea of race relations in a heady time of Puerto Rico’s history–there is something worth exploring there, but the movie quickly veers away into more shots of Johnny Depp obsessing over a personality-free blonde.
I had high hopes going in, but the moment of Depp’s big announcement–that the smell of ink, and the smell of bastards, lingered in the gutted press room of that small newspaper– was never followed up by anything game-changing. It was filled with boozing and words that sound deep and pretty, but nothing new–nothing that captured my imagination or turned my head. Instead of affecting his audience, Depp literally rides off into a tropical sunset on the (easily, and too easily) stolen boat of his rival, while a quaint text scrolls over the screen telling us that his character went on to achieve great things.
I wanted to like the film. I really did. But in the end, it just felt empty–passionless.