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Zola (18)

Cast: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Jeremy O Harris, Janicza Bravo
Director: Janicza Bravo
Release Date: 06/08/2021 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 86mins
Country: US
Year: 2020

Detroit waitress Zola is enduring a long day at work when she serves another stripper, Stefani, and sparks an instant connection. The following day, Stefani invites Zola to join her on a trip to Tampa to perform at a club where one girl reportedly made "5 Gs a night". Zola ignores the protestations of her boyfriend Sean and excitedly hits the road with her new friend and Stefani's roommate Abegunde Olawale aka X and boyfriend Derrek. After a long car journey, the threats and intimidation begin.


LondonNet Film Review
Zola (18)

Truth is crazier and more entertaining than fiction in Janicza Bravo’s blackly humorous road trip, based on a series of more than 140 tweets posted in October 2015 by waitress Aziah “Zola” King about an ill-fated excursion to Florida to earn money as a stripper. Her social media storm went viral and spawned an article in Rolling Stone magazine, which confirmed King may have embellished some of the more lurid aspects of her tale. Bravo’s film opens with a simple admission – “Most of what follows is true” – and proceeds to use Zola’s profanity-strewn outbursts, sometimes word for word, as a hilarious framework for a freewheeling story of soured sisterly solidarity, prostitution and ham-fisted criminal enterprise…

“It’s kinda long but it’s full of suspense,” promises Zola (Taylour Paige) in her omnipresent voiceover that runs like a river of filth through every twist and turn. Flashes of sexual menace and full-frontal male nudity cast us as voyeurs to the escalating threat and delirium. Paige’s grounded performance is countered by an all-guns-blazing turn from Riley Keough as the manipulative minx, who somehow retains a thin veneer of likeability despite every lie and betrayal. They are a dynamic pairing, feeding off the whirling energy of Bravo’s camerawork that repeatedly laces moments of exuberance (the road trippers singing together in the car) with discomfiting reality (a Confederate flag fluttering in the breeze to signal their arrival in Florida).

Detroit waitress Zola (Paige) is enduring a long day at work when she serves another stripper, Stefani (Keough), and sparks an instant connection. The following day, Stefani invites Zola to join her on a trip to Tampa to perform at a club where one girl reportedly made “5 Gs a night”. Zola ignores the protestations of her boyfriend Sean (Ari’el Stachel) and excitedly hits the road with her new friend and Stefani’s roommate Abegunde Olawale aka X (Colman Domingo) and boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun).

After a long, troubling car journey, the women leave their bags with Derrek in a motel room while they head to the club. Tips are thin – nothing close to 5,000 dollars – and Zola’s mood is killed when one punter whispers, “You look a lot like Whoopi Goldberg!” Soon after, the threats and intimidation begin as it transpires that X is Stefani’s pimp and he “takes care” of her by posting her for sale on a website.

Zola is a wild cautionary tale, galvanised by Bravo’s kinetic direction and the unapologetic authorial voice of the real Aziah King. A symphony of trills and chirrups from characters’ mobile phones reminds us of the film’s origins. Composer Mica Levi heightens our disorientation with a woozy score that tinkles lightly back and forth between seductive and sinister, emphasising how quickly the central character’s fortunes can moulder into despair.

– Jo Planter


London Cinemas Showing Zola


From: Friday 24th September
To: Thursday 30th September

Hackney Picturehouse

Fri 16:10; Sat 13:45; Wed 20:50

From: Friday 1st October
To: Thursday 7th October

No cinema infomation at the moment

UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Zola


From: Friday 24th September
To: Thursday 30th September

From: Friday 1st October
To: Thursday 7th October

No cinema infomation at the moment