Director: Janicza Bravo
Stars: Talyour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo, Ar’iel Statchel
‘Y'all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out? It's kind of long but full of suspense’ begins this audacious adaptation of the 140-post tweet thread from A’Ziah King that became a viral smash when it dropped in 2015.
The narration comes from Zola (Paige), a waitress in a Detroit Hooters-style restaurant and part-time stripper who meets the ‘bitch’, the trashy cocksure ‘blacented’ white girl Stefani (Keough) when she drops into Zola’s place and invites her to dance with her that night at a club. The pair bond and Stefani proposes that Zola come down to Tampa Florida for the weekend where, she promises, they can make serious money dancing at a high-end strip club.
Zola accepts, but alarm bells begin to sound when she meets their fellow passengers, Stefani’s mysterious roommate, X (Domingo) and Stefani’s heroically dim boyfriend Derrek (Braun, Cousin Greg from ‘Succession’). When they check into a seedy motel and it dawns on Zola that X is actually Stefani’s pimp, the situation unravels quickly.
The go-for-broke gleeful amorality and brash 'n' flash screwball feel, along with the social media-invoking skittering editing rhythms, bolstered by Mica Levi’s unsettling synthesised score, results in a sensory overload that will not be to all tastes. But it’s bracingly original and confident when it could have easily gone the other way and been an after-the-fact sluggish cinematic cash-in on newer, more dynamic media content.
The excellent leads work hard for those dollar$ with Paige’s increasingly bemused Zola wondering what she got herself into, providing a perfect straight-woman foil to Keough’s anarchic whirlwind Stefani.
Zola is released on 6th August
David WilloughbyFollow David on @DWill_Crackfilm