Badly paced and lacking in energy, The Rum Diary sometimes glimmers with potential, but soon flops again.
This should be a wildly energetic, sharply focused, and beautifully shot movie that’s full of wit and clever observations. The wild characters should be more engaging, the story should zip along, and frankly I should come out of this feeling something more than just mildly bored. The film is clearly well intentioned, but no matter how much it tries to capture some of the necessary energy for this film, it far too often just seems to be treading water.
Johnny Depp gives a passable performance; it’s not amongst his best work, but it does gain bonus points for being much more restrained than is expected of the actor nowadays. Amber Heard demonstrates her talent here but is cut short of giving a great performance by the script’s limitations, and surprisingly it is Giovanni Ribisi who is the film’s standout actor – however his character doesn’t have loads to do, and therefore can’t save the film. You see, The Rum Diary is largely an example of decent material and potentially great performances, which are never given the chance to really shine. It’s all just a little restrained, a bit crazy in places for the sake of it, and then it quietly just fizzles out.
I can’t say I recommend this one, it wouldn’t be a complete waste of your time if you wanted to give it a go. It looks nice, there’s a couple of somewhat compelling stories within it, and there are several good jokes to help it along, but you can do much better than this generally. Really it’s only for the Hunter S. Thompson fans amongst you.
What is the film’s greatest strength?
It’s heart is in the right place, and so are Depp’s efforts, but it’s Ribisi who comes out best.
Its greatest weakness?
It takes too long to get going, and when it does it still meanders – it’s the script that’s at fault here.
Would I see it again?
Not really. There’s nothing here that would draw me back for a second viewing.
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