Toronto True Crime Film Festival 2019: Mope

Mope (2019) 1h 45min | Comedy, Drama | 27 January 2019 (USA) Summary: The tragic true story of best friends Steve Driver and Tom Dong, two low end porn actors who sought fame but gained infamy.
Countries: USALanguages: English

Two aspiring porn actors try to make it in the adult industry in Mope. Steve Driver (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and Tom Dong (Kelly Sry) are two “mopes,” a somewhat derogatory term aimed towards under-performing talent in the porn industry. Steve and Tom are reluctantly hired by Eric Long (Brian Huskey), a low-grade filmmaker specializing in filming somewhat degrading fetishes. While Tom becomes content with his status in the adult industry, Steve’s delusions of grandeur begin to lead him down a dark path.

Mope is the feature-length debut film from director Lucas Heyne, which tells the tragic true story of aspiring porn actors Steve Driver and Tom Dong. Steve, who at one point describes himself as the “John Holmes of African Descent,” somewhat foreshadowing where the film ends up, is a man who has big dreams for himself and Tom. However, we soon learn that Steve has a history of mental illness and instability, with his behaviour progressively worsening, as his dreams of being a porn star begin to crumble.

Mope is a film that begins as a dark comedy about trying to make it in the porn industry, before taking a much darker turn in the third act. Much of the film exposes many of the ugly truths about the adult industry, particularly through an extended cameo by David Arquette as porn director Rocket, who wants Steve and Tom to perform with racial stereotypes. Ultimately, I would say that Mope is almost entirely about its dark and violent ending, however, I would be hard-pressed to say whether or not the film that comes before truly earns the place where it ends up.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).