Although I’m not much of a fan of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I am a fan of The Rum Diary. From the same author, featuring his same odd stories and humor, and with the same lead in each, the two share a lot in common – only The Rum Diary features a plot (even if it doesn’t take the straightest line to get there) and plenty of hearty content.
It’s 1960 and borderline alcoholic Paul Kemp was just hired to write for sham newspaper The San Juan Star in Puerto Rico. Being a tourist destination for rich money-spending vacationers, the paper’s mission to stay fluffy and keep their vacationing minds worry-free. Kemp wishes to be a true journalist, uncovering the shady news of the empoverished natives, but his story ideas are rejected and he’s sent to cover tourists winning jackpots in luxerious resort casinos instead.
As the film slowly evolves, Paul meets a wealthy businessman who lives in the area (Aaron Eckhart) and discovers a truly journalistic front page story in progress. The closer he gets, the more his alcoholism gets in the way and he and his new friends get into a lot of trouble. It may not seem like it from the get-go, but the father you get into the movie, the more you realize how the events are all going to tie together.
Slow and artsy, The Rum Diary is going to leave a lot of mainstream audiences scratching their heads – but at the same time, know that it’s not a pretentious arthouse flick only in it for the awards nominations. The Rum Diary is not that type of movie. It’s slow, dramatic, quirky at times, enthralling and entertaining.
Photo credit: Film District