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SXSW: Political Thriller ‘Run This Town’ Takes on Timely Issues – March 12, 2019

Damian Lewis in a Truly Striking Transformation

by Natalie Mokry | Austin360 | March 12, 2019

If there was ever a more relevant time for films to explore issues young millennials face in the workforce or the evolving questions about the role of politicians and the press, it’s now. “Run This Town” notably seizes on this but at times bites off a little more than it is willing to chew.

The film takes place in Toronto during the mayorship of Rob Ford, a real-life politician who created controversy and scandal during his time in office and whose substance abuse eventually led to the end of his position. Ford as a character, played by Damian Lewis in a truly striking transformation, takes a back seat in the film, which instead follows those in the orbit of his scandalous term, characters who are mostly fictionalized.

Bram (Ben Platt) is a young journalist who gets a job at a local paper, where his task is to write lists on trivial matters such as the city’s best burgers. He grows frustrated with the outlet’s lack of faith in him as a writer and the lack of opportunities it provides him to shine in what he feels is “real” journalism. So when he receives some possibly exclusive information about a scandalous video taken of Ford, he becomes determined to uncover the story with or without the help of his editor and his outlet and gain their recognition in the process.

Meanwhile, Kamal (Mena Massoud), a Ford staffer, is essentially in charge of deflecting the media narrative around Ford and covering up any inappropriate acts. A lawyer fresh out of school, Ashley (Nina Dobrev), works alongside him. Neither are respected by Ford, but they both desperately need the work for different reasons, so they stay. However, Ashley becomes uncomfortable with her job after experiencing firsthand the type of harassment Ford commits without reprimand or remorse, and she begins working toward a way to help expose the reality of who Ford is.

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