After decades of video game adaptations failing spectacularly, the first film based on a series of tweets – no, no kidding – is actually pretty darn good.
Zola, about a black stripper who meets a crazy white stripper and then makes a bad decision to go on a road trip to Florida with that stripper (and a man who may or may not be her pimp … ok, he’s her pimp) to go is a dramatization of an at least partially true insane story. The kind that you really can’t make up.
Janicza Bravo is directing and co-writing this frenetic comedy-drama from Studio A24, and the only reason I’m going to point out the film is from A24 is because it is, of course, from A24. Stylistically, it feels like something out of the young company’s playbook, and I mean that as a compliment through and through.
Zola Snapshots of a single weekend in the title character’s life (based on the original tweeter A’Ziah King, who is clearly a much better storyteller than I’ll ever be) that includes all sorts of weird and sketchy situations and characters. It’s fun, twisted, and just unconventional, but in a clever way. Taylour Paige rocks it in the lead role and knots herself into the street-wise, but perhaps not wise Zola, while Riley Keough chews the scenery as the expressive and not at all wise Stefani. Colman Domingo and Nicholas Braun complete the cast of aces, Domingo breathes fire in a love-hate relationship, and Braun best known for playing the idiotic cousin in Succession, plays a character that is as idiotic as it is amusing.
As fiery and fluid as it is Zola is – Bravo doesn’t waste a minute – there is something that doesn’t feel full; When the weekend snapshot is over and the credits roll ends, the destination isn’t quite as big as the journey to get there. Zola It’s fun right now and is a good movie through and through, but it doesn’t knock you out quite the way you expect or hope. Still very recommendable.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise stated.