A stripper named Zola embarks on a wild road trip to Florida.
In the age that we live in it was probably inevitable that Twitter would form the basis of a movie, albeit you would perhaps assume something more along the lines of ‘The Social Network’ than what we get with ‘Zola’ (stylized as @zola). This is a movie based on a Twitter thread that went viral, about an unusual road trip that goes wrong and leads to a series of events that many screenwriters would dismiss as too farfetched. My understanding is that the main individuals involved have verified the story so it possibly does prove the old adage that truth is often stranger than fiction!
The movie centres on a waitress and part-time stripper called Zola (Taylour Paige) who encounters a fellow dancer called Stefani (Riley Keough) in a café and agrees to go on a road trip to Tampa, Florida with her, on account of the possibility to earn lucrative sums of money dancing. Needless to say there’s more to this offer than meets the eye and Zola immediately smells a rat when Taylor’s boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun) and her ‘roommate’ X (Colman Domingo) come along for the ride. It becomes an increasingly crazy story and ‘Zola’ mostly does justice to it, if you can get past the annoying characters who make the first 15 minutes in particular a challenge! Keough in particular is crass and obnoxious (by design) and it was a struggle spending time with Stefani as a result, at least at first.
The movie is directed by Janicza Bravo and she throws in stylistic flourishes and a bright, giddy colour palette that makes the movie feel like ‘American Honey’ by way of Harmony Korine’s ‘Spring Breakers’, although certainly not as terrific as ‘American Honey’ is. Paige is a solid lead and plays Zola believably as someone just crazy enough to get involved but not crazy enough to get in too deep, at least not intentionally. ‘Zola’ is good, crazy fun and at less than 90 minutes long it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and for those who read the Twitter thread at the centre of it, you’ll find this does a good job of bringing the story to life.
Directed By: Janicza Bravo
Starring: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, Jason Mitchell and Ari’el Stachel