A waitress agrees to accompany an exotic dancer, her put-upon boyfriend, and her mysterious and domineering roommate on a road trip to Florida to seek their fortune at a high-end strip club.
“You wanna hear a story about why me and this b--ch here fell out? It’s kind of long but full of suspense.” On paper (or on an iPhone screen), “Zola” sounds like one of the worst ever ideas for a feature-length film. Based on a real-life Twitter thread between a Hooters waitress and a stripper, this stranger than fiction story played out over social media in 2015 — and damn if it doesn’t make for a wildly original, outrageously entertaining movie. Zola (Taylour Paige) meets Stefani (Riley Keough) at a restaurant in Detroit, where the two begin chatting about their common interest: pole dancing. Soon after they meet, Stefani invites Zola on a cross-country road trip to Tampa, where they hope to make thousands of dollars dancing in the swanky Florida strip clubs. What starts out as a promising business venture turns into an absolutely crazy (and dangerous) outing with violent pimps, prostitution, attempted suicide, and murder. You have to see it to believe it. It’s crazy. The story is (mostly) true, and writer – director Janicza Bravo focuses on Zola’s side of the story (although Stefani has a chance to present her version in one of the most hilarious bits in the film). You could say it’s all about individual perspective, but Zola is presented as the lone truth teller. Will we ever know the full truth? It’s unlikely. The performances are as sensational as the story, with challenging and risky roles for all of the actors involved. Paige and Keough (in what was my favorite performance at Sundance this year) are particularly fearless as they go all-in on Zola and Stefani, Nicholas Braun is sympathetic as a kind, long-suffering boyfriend, and Colman Domingo is downright frightening as an intimidating, violent pimp. The cast takes the script and runs wild with it, and it works. Bravo has achieved something incredible here, as she literally takes tweets and has crafted them into a saucy screenplay. The film has an appealing eccentricity to it, and it’s directed with a tongue-in-cheek style that fits the material like a glove. Her attention to detail is stellar, and the look of the film is perfectly matched to its source material. “Zola” has a few missteps and feels overly long, but the confidence from Bravo and her cast makes the majority of its flaws disappear. It manages to stay funny, even when things get very, very dark. This is one of those wacky movies that is sure to be talked about, if only for the sheer insanity of the story.
Full review: https://www.tinakakadelis.com/beyond-the-cinerama-dome/2021/12/28/american-nightmare-zola-review Janicza Bravo’s long-awaited star of Sundance, [email protected]_, could not feel more timely, despite the year-long delay. Adapted from the viral Twitter thread of 2015 by Aziah “Zola” King, @zola tells the story of a trip to Tampa gone horribly wrong. After a chance meeting in a Detroit restaurant, Zola (an impeccable Taylour Paige) agrees to accompany Stefani (Riley Keough), Stefani’s roommate X (Colman Domingo), and Stefani’s boyfriend (Nicolas Braun) on a trip to Tampa to earn money by dancing in strip clubs. Stefani has done this before and assures Zola that she can make really good money. What follows is a nightmare of Floridian proportions.
Different, but I actually liked it. 'Zola' takes a few scenes to get into it and to get used to the stylistic choices, namely with the editing and dialogue, though by the end I did in fact enjoy this film. It's a bonkers story, one that I semi heard about when it became known that a film was going to be made based on a thread of tweets. It's probably much better than it was any right to be in truth, all things considered, but the filmmakers made it work and deserve credit for that - and also for the astutely chosen short run time, too. The acting talent bring noteworthy performances, with particularly Taylour Paige and also Riley Keough putting in the work. Colman Domingo is also good - I already like that guy from TV's 'Fear the Walking Dead', so it's always a pleasure to see him act elsewhere. Recommended.