The Rum Diary (15)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart

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The Independent Culture

Bruce Robinson was allegedly lured out of retirement once Johnny Depp agreed to sign on for this adaptation of a Hunter S Thompson novel, though heaven knows why.

The book, written in the early 1960s, remained unpublished for nearly 40 years, and should probably have stayed that way. Depp plays Paul Kemp, a journo hired by a moribund newspaper in Puerto Rico, 1960, when rich, rum-soaked Americans are enjoying a Caribbean land-grab. Though Kemp is keener on drink and drugs than news gathering he is nevertheless courted by a shady entrepreneur (Aaron Eckhart) who wants him to plant favourable stories on his forthcoming property splash.

Depp strolls through it all, bemused, befuddled, and then besotted by a girl (Amber Heard) who's way too young for him. The writer-director Robinson, trying to rekindle the Withnail embers, seems undecided on what kind of film he's making – a tale of Yankee avarice, a celebration of the Thompson inner gonzo, or, belatedly, a tribute to the crusader spirit of independent journalism. In the end, it's not much of anything, and really takes its time (two hours plus) proving so.

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