Feature

The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary is based on an autobiographical novel Hunter Thompson wrote as a young journalist.

Directed by Bruce Robinson(R)

**

Johnny Depp’s “touching tribute” to his late friend Hunter S. Thompson “will appeal to anyone who harbors romantic ideas about liquor, newspaper journalism,” or the early 1960s, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Based on an autobiographical novel Thompson wrote when he was beginning his career, it’s also “the literary equivalent of a superhero origin story.” Depp plays a young journalist in Puerto Rico whose sense of ethics is challenged by a PR man offering bribes and by the flirtations of the man’s girlfriend. But where Thompson’s book gave us “skillfully observed substance,” director Bruce Robinson “gives us well-crafted veneer,” said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. Though the film is beautiful to look at, “the novel’s essential power has been lost in translation.” The Rum Diary’s “meandering pace” doesn’t help matters, said Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. Still, “there’s inarguable pleasure to be had simply in hearing Thompson’s deathless prose rattled off like so much dyspeptic poetry.” There’s no doubt that “Thompson’s fans will savor Depp’s impersonation of the author’s cracked, clipped cadences.”

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