Some stories are so bizarre, they can't possibly be untrue.
"Zola" is one such tale.
It all started in 2015 with a tweet...148 tweets to be exact. Aziah "Zola" King (@zolarmoon) was the author of the unbelievable twitter thread, which went viral and then was followed up by a Rolling Stone article by David Kushner. "Zola" is the film based on Aziah King's story...and is perhaps the first film ever to be based on a Twitter thread.
It started with some images and the caption, "Y'all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out???????? It's kind of long but full of suspense." Detroit-based waitress/dancer, Aziah King, would go on to detail how she met fellow exotic dancer, Stefani, and how she then agreed to go on a road trip the very next day with Stefani, her douchy boyfriend and her pimp. The story contained lots of sex and violence, and was so crazy that it just has to be true.
It's perhaps best described in the article by David Kushner himself, when he gives the story's elevator pitch as: "It reads like Spring Breakers meets Pulp Fiction, as told by Nicki Minaj."
Zola (Taylour Paige) meets Stefani (real-life daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, Riley Keough) and embarks on the famous road trip, with "Succession" star Nicholas Braun as the gumpy boyfriend, Derrek, and Colman Domingo as the abusive pimp known as X. The movie tries to capture the over-the-top absurdity of the story and does so marvelously, in the hands of director Janicza Bravo, who for sure will be considered a "breakout" after this Herculean effort.
Both Paige and Keough are absolute stand-outs as well, with Keough given the more flashier of the two roles. Braun has perfected a certain kind of loser character, and Domingo has never been better, or has chewed up more scenery. But the real star might again be director and co-writer Janicza Bravo, who somehow is able to capture the bizarre nature of things without ever poking fun at it or its characters.
"Zola" is a bit messy, but it also feels like a refreshing dose of indie-film panache, injected directly into the viewer's eyeballs. You stare at these characters in wonderment, without ever really latching on to anything familiar or relatable. You're just pulled in. This feels more like watching an attraction at a zoo, with a sort of comfort in knowing that you're being kept at arms-length away from the exhibit, never wanting to be right there in the pit.
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama.
Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Starring: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, Jason Mitchell, Ts Madison.
Based on the tweets by A'Ziah King.
Co-Written and Directed by Janicza Bravo ("Lemon").
"Zola" is available on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021.
Looking for a specific movie or review?