Starring: Ben Platt, Mena Massoud, Nina Dobrev, Scott Speedman, with Jennifer Ehle and Damian Lewis
Written and Directed By: Ricky Tollman
In Theaters: March 6, 2020
72 popcorn kernels out of 100
With great power comes great responsibility. In the case of actual former City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, with great power came great irresponsibility. The subject matter of the new film Run This Town, now playing in theatres by Elevation Pictures details the investigation of former Mayor of Toronto who made headlines across the world as the city’s crack smoking Mayor. Run This Town focuses on the beginnings of junior journalist Bram Shriver (Ben Platt) as he struggles to prove his worth as an investigative journalist to his superior Dan (Scott Speedman) and his parents who have provided him with every advantage. The film examines the limits of journalism in an era where investigative journalism has succumbed to TMZ headlines and top ten lists of greatest burger spots in the city. As much as this is a story about Rob Ford’s reign as the crack smoking Mayor of Toronto, it is centrally a tale about three millenials Ben, Kamal and Ashley and their pivotal roles behind the scenes in this larger than life drama.
Mena Massoud stars as Kamal, the Mayor’s special assistant whose job entails covering up the Mayor’s many scandals and social media missteps while unofficially running the city. Mena provides great range when showcasing the struggle that real-life Amin Massoudi experienced when balancing the struggle with duty to his job and his city. Nina Dobrev stars as Ashley, an overqualified lawyer in the role as a press assistant who struggles with the consequences of losing her job and only source of income by reporting Ford to the police. The millennials featured in the film all struggle to pay their bills and suffer a lack of faith from their superiors in their potential. They struggle with doing what is right in a world where doing the right thing will leave them unemployed. Their worlds collide when the Mayor of Toronto becomes more and more unhinged in his duties as Mayor. Enter Damian Lewis who portrays the late Mayor Rob Ford with a larger than life persona. Lewis is totally unrecognizable in an unrealistic fat suit, however, his portrayal of the Mayor will leave you with realistic feelings of both hatred and sadness for the troubled soul he is playing on screen. Under the many layers of prosthetics, Lewis is able to bring out the humanity that made Ford a loved Mayor by many of his constituents, while showcasing Ford’s spiral into darkness. Unfortunately the film misuses the great acting ability of Damian Lewis and limits his screen time to minutes in the movie. The moments when Damian is on screen he shines and makes you wish the film focused more on Ford.
“Is he going to lose his job?”
“He is the Mayor”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
Ricky Tollman’s directorial debut provides an aesthetic that works perfectly with the subject matter. Tollman gives a nod to All The President’s Men in a deepthroat-esque meeting that works to hit-home to the audience the risks that Ben is undertaking in meeting his source. Use of split screens act like panels on the front page of a newspaper that highlight Ben, Kamal and Nina in this manic story that will surprise even those who have read all of the headlines. Run This Town isn’t a film about Rob Ford and that may be disappointing to some viewers who are expecting a story about the many shenanigans of the late Mayor. I wasn’t disappointed, I thoroughly enjoyed the breakneck pace to the story and behind the scenes look into the lives of these three young protagonists. Come to the theater with the expectation that you will be watching a well-done investigative journalism film that does justice to the struggles of those who were engulfed in the dark world of Toronto’s troubled Mayor.