For the first time in nearly twenty years Bruce Robinson resumes his role as a director. Despite swearing that, after the failure of Jennifer Eight, in 1992, he would never make another Hollywood movie, Robinson releases his adaptation of the iconic Hunter S Thompson novel, The Rum Diary, next Friday (November 4th). The novel concerns the journalist Paul Kemp who relocates to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Constantly doused in sweat and with the humid air consistently heavy with tension, Kemp fluctuates between his claustrophobic apartment, Al’s bar, and fighting off the locals outside his office.
After the popularity of Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Robinson risks being directly compared and judged in contrast. However he displays a definite confidence with his new project, skipping the festival circuit and going alone with no committee interference, and with Johnny Depp acting as his lead, and with the cult classic Withnail & I, under his belt, who can blame him.
It was Johnny Depp that pitched the idea of The Rum Diary to Thompson and although Depp has re introduced Robinson into the public eye, The Rum Diary became the Devil on Robinson’s shoulder, reminding him of past struggles and torments. After previously dealing with alcoholism and then renouncing drink completely for six years, Robinson found, that for inspirational purposes it was impossible to continue his renunciation. In order to write a screenplay that was very much concerned with alcohol and the states of mind which it inflicts he had to liberate past repressions and re-enter a world which he and Paul Kemp can share.
Infused then with directorial emotion, and with Johnny Depp both playing and commemorating his close friend, Hunter Thompson, who shot himself in 2005, this film will hopefully be approached and delivered with the innovation and sensitivity that a genius like Thompson deserved.
Rum Diary is out November 4th
Words By Morgan Meaker