Boston Underground Film Festival Review: MOPE (2019)

MOPE is a story of two men who become friends teaming up to make a name in the porn industry. A story of the budding friendship between Steve Driver and Tom Dong. A story full of jokes; some lude, some racial. A story that does not have a happy ending. MOPE is director Lucas Heyne’s telling of a tragic murder in California 2010. With the help of police reports, professionals in the porn industry, and the family of Steve Driver, Lucas pieced together this mostly true story.

The film has a lot of great comedy throughout. Starting with a bukkake scene introducing us to our main characters as nameless background bukkake boys. It’s here that, with a little help from Tom Dong, Steve Driver can finish the bukkake scene. Leaving the set, through some cringy dialogue of two people discovering they have similar interests, a friendship is born.

Kelly Sry and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett in MOPE

I enjoyed most of the comedic bits in this film except for the emphasis on racial jokes in the first half of the film. I believe this was an intentional commentary on the porn industry and the people in charge of making pornographic films. I was worried the entire film would be this way and luckily it was not. The score is also full of songs created for a good laugh so keep your ears open.

The dialogue in the beginning felt like it was just there to get us to the second half of the film. Some empty hype speeches and a fight to establish Steve and Tom’s relationship and to show some of Steve’s animosity. The cast, however, was perfect. Everyone delivered their lines perfectly and was believable in their roles; one couldn’t hope for a better cast.

Despite my distaste for the beginning, I very much enjoyed this film. I’m happy that Lucas Heyne chose to tell this story and will happily watch more of his work. If you can stomach some racial and lewd jokes, then give this film a watch. It’s worth your time.

I’d also like to take this moment to address something important to me. A huge part of the film is about Steve Driver and his mental instability. This isn’t stated in the film, but during a Q&A after the film, Lucas Heyne mentioned that Steve Driver was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder but wasn’t getting the treatment he needed.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time, help them where you can. Be patient with them. Below are links and phone numbers to the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you need to, please talk to a trained professional for help.

National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Phone: 1-800-662-4357

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Phone: 1-800-273-8255

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