Friday, November 4, 2011

'Rum Diary' a Little Too Rum-Soaked for Some of Us

I suspect that those of you who've never had a fight to the death with alcohol or drugs will see "The Rum Diary" a little differently than I did. This Hunter Thompson debut tale is like a drug/booze induced two-hour race to the bottom of human endeavor. The drunk is the good guy.

This movie makes "Train Spotting" look sober and glamorous. I'm waiting for somebody to say--as they did about "Train Spotting"--that it glorifies addiction. It doesn't. If you come out of this one wanting or needing a drink, you're the one with the problem.

This is a Johnny Depp vehicle that is actually stolen from him by Giovanni Robisi as his newspaper colleague, a man whose life has been eaten away by his addictions to the degree that he makes a bum living under a bridge look middle class. Robisi is fine actor who has never played the role of an admirable character that I've seen and this one is no exception, but his portrayal is Oscar worthy. A gem of a performance in a difficult part.

There are a number of layers to the story of the newspaperman who is in Puerto Rico in order to get a career bump; his corrupt boss; the corrupt real estate developer and his even more corrupt banker buddies; the news guy's colleagues (including Robisi) who are not a worthy lot and a gorgeous blonde who outshines the scenery.

I'd like to say it's a fun movie (it's not) or a worthy movie (not much of Thompson's stuff is worthy) or even a movie that needed to be made (nope). It's a diversion of a kind I don't much like what with all the boozing and drugging. But Robisi is worth watching. He really is.

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