These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For: Our Review of ‘Run This Town’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 06, 2020
These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For: Our Review of ‘Run This Town’

~Waves Hand~

This is not the movie you think it is…

As audiences clamour to see the adaptation of the story of the downfall of enigmatic former Toronto mayor Rob Ford in Run This Town is really only existing on the out skirts of that and it tells a much darker tale during a time where we all kind of lost a little bit perspective on the difference between the facts on any given scenario and our role in it all.

A young journalist Bram (Ben Platt) and a young political aide (Mena Massoud) become entangled in a larger-than-life political scandal as they struggle to navigate adult life. Like all their friends, Bram and Kamal are struggling to climb the ladders at their respective workplaces: Bram at a newspaper, Kamal at City Hall. When Bram learns of a scandal involving Kamal’s larger-than-life boss (Damien Lewis), he seizes the moment to advance his career. Meanwhile, Kamal grapples with containing the story while maintaining his integrity.

Make no mistake, Run This Town is NOT the Rob Ford story, but it’s the Rob Ford story haunting one that is still going on today as it bears witness on the death of journalism and a general lack of perspective that has permeated so many levels of society that it’s a little hard to even keep track any more.

First time Writer/Director Ricky Tollman pulls together an ambitious look at society that most audiences will see as a type of morality play shining a like on the likes of politician’s like Donald Trump, only not realizing that our story in Toronto was simply a precursor to a main event that no one anticipated.

It’s heavily fictionalized but that’s OK, as Tollman lays out a somewhat chaotic but always engaging tale about how the checks and balances in public life along with what used to be a public service in reporting the news which has devolved into a series of listicles and click bait headline articles.  While the dismay and lack of perspective from every one of its leading characters is self evident it all could have used a little more focus.  It’s a film that’s less about facts and more about feeling and while Tollman is a little messy in his delivery in the narrative trying to make heavy handed points about racism and sexual harassment, it’s fascinating to look at a cast of characters who are all behave like assholes and don’t even know it.

Ben Platt’s Bram is this idealistic young kid fresh out of school who lives in a bubble made by those around him and perpetuated by himself that he’s the second coming of both Woodward & Bernstein and the more he tries to live up to it, the deeper pile of shit he finds himself in.  Mena Massoud is very solid as the right hand man in the position of power at city hall.  He’s deluded himself into thinking that he runs the city, when really he’s just the baby sitter to petulant alcoholic and abuser.  While Nina Dobrev’s character might be the most noble of them all because she thinks she’s too good for the job she’s holding in city hall in the first place and Damien Lewis looms over it all as the guy who is really only in charge of berating his staff and telling them that he’s “In Charge”.

Scott Speedman and Jennifer Ehle round out the ensemble well enough, but at least with our three protagonists we get characters that have some genuine depth and layers to them, even if they aren’t all that pleasant.

Ultimately, Run This Town is all about potential and the loss of it.  Ricky Tollman’s debut feature shows so much potential in telling a story about the loss of perspective and the ability to do anything truly meaningful, that it actually turns into a pretty poignant story.  It’s hardly what we’d call a straight line of storytelling, but it gets the job done.

  • Release Date: 3/6/2020
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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