16 June 2020 | TwistedContent
Raw and Seedy World, Spun Up Compellingly by a Promising Director
Today out came a strangely compelling oddball, something raw, filthy, bleak, for some perhaps even repulsive, but on the flipside the filth actually has a heart, and style. I had no clue of what "mope" meant in the porn industry, but now I know, and not only that, also the true and seedy story behind "Mope" - a story the film stays quite true to, bringing to screen one of the possibly most grounded and pragmatic depictions of adult film industry.
"Mope" introduces us to the tragic story of Steve Driver and Tom Dong, two low-end porn actors that become best friends, and together seek opportunities and reach for fame, only to achieve infamy. Taking place in a physically and mentally seedy and otherwise deviant slice of this world, "Mope" feels confident and assuring within the confines of it. It's not an adult film though, in a sense that, despite being set in such universe, "Mope" is not an overly explicit flick. Having said that, it's not a movie to have somebody walk in on without proper context.
Steven is an enthusiastic young man with couple of troubles on his shoulders, and his absolute American dream is to become an adult film star, and Tom Dong is all up for it - therein lies the heart of this movie, in the process of a friendship, one that ends in tragedy. "Mope" starts on an uplifting note and stays quite fun and funny for at least half the runtime, though I imagine the subject matter could a big "if" for some, for one might feel the urge to take a shower after seeing this filthy flagship carrying some sleazy and homely men. "Mope" calls for empathy, but there isn't a whole lot of that in the society it presents - this is something that really depends on the viewer. The comedy factor, however, is inarguable, and it's rare when a movie of such mood ends on a note so bleak and depressing.
The seemingly nearly perfectly cast ensemble of actors do a great job and do not take away from the established authenticity of "Mope" - my personal highlights are Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as the energetic lead, and to many probably a seen face someplace, Brian Huskey, portraying the studio manager, writer, producer, director, the mighty leader. There isn't really a bad performance around, and if "Mope" hasn't been sold yet, horror fans might be pulled in by David Arqutte.
"Mope", by all means, feels and looks like a low budget feature, but once again, it seems to be the least of problems for B flicks nowadays. The camera work is decent, cinematography's easy to digest, easy to enjoy, and, small thing, but I personally like movies with no black bars nowhere. As for FX, there's one sequence of real violence, one that carries weight, and likely could've carried more of it if it wasn't shying away with so many cuts and close-ups.
Wether it's a story that needed to be adapted or not might be up for some discussion, but personally I enjoyed it, found it to a well-executed and odd mix of things, and actually compelling, so it is a 6/10 from me. This being director Lucas Heyne's full feature directional debut, I'm intrigued for what comes next, because "Mope" is a proof that the man knows how to find heart and substance in demanding scenarios.