Johnny Depp has masqueraded in pirate and animated lizard form for his last two features, but now the charismatic actor returns to a more quirky and adult tone as he teams up with director Bruce Robinson in a production of The Rum Diary.
Adapted from the cult novel by Hunter S. Thompson, the plot finds disillusioned journalist Paul Kemp (Depp) shedding the hustle and bustle of New York City for the allure of Puerto Rico where the writer takes up residency at the local tabloid, The San Juan Star, run by editor Edward J. Lotterman (Richard Jenkins).
Captured by the charms of the island and an increasingly booze heavy and party infused lifestyle, the wayward writer sets his sights on a major scoop by targeting the activities of shady business tycoon Hal Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) and a maze of illegal property scams.
The journalist also finds himself captivated by Chenault (Amber Heard), the attractive fiancÃ©e of Sanderson whilst events as a whole are about to turn into a rum soaked nightmare.
Depp is not new to the world of Thompson and some may remember the actor’s critically acclaimed collaboration with director Terry Gilliam in the mind bending and visually chaotic adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
The emphasis on the chaos caused by over indulgence is continued here with Depp back in a boozed soaked mode that seems not so distant from a certain pirate captain whilst Robinson manages to capture the tropical backwater setting of Puerto Rico during the 1950’s with a barrage of sweat stained shirts, electric fans, carnivals, local traffic jams and enough alcohol to sink a battleship.
More importantly the humour seems to be sharp and irreverent in nature with Depp and his journalist cohorts showing an almost oblivious and arrogant attitude to the inherent dangers of snooping on the activities of the corrupt.
Perhaps there is also a cynical commentary on the abuse of new found wealth amongst the Americans of the era with the trailer seemingly portraying each traveller to the island as either almost imperialistic in nature or constantly drunk and viewed with contempt by the local populace.
So will the Rum Diary prove to be an enjoyable tipple or induce a nasty hangover?
No doubt we will find out when the film opens this Friday.
The Rum Diary is released in the UK on 11th November 20011.