Movie Review – Zola (2020)


Zola, 2020.

Directed by Janicza Bravo.
Starring Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, Ari’el Stachel, Jason Mitchell and Ts Madison.



Zola (Taylour Paige) is a waitress and pole dancer who meets Stefan (Riley Keough) one day in the dining room where she works. Stefani invites him down to Miami with X (Colman Domingo) to earn extra money. This is that story.


Zola is more interesting in terms of the tour’s obsession with technology rather than storytelling. The classic scene structure merges with the tropics of social media to produce something that is more inspiring than inspiring. Author-director Janicza Bravo takes the basics story, throws in some fourth wall-breaking and articulated section a film that deserves recognition.

Taylour Paige’s Zola speaks to the camera, makes an expositive sound and at the same time works alongside Riley Keough’s Stefan. Their relationship is rarely friendly, often business type, and intentionally impersonal. The opening minutes inform audiences that this film has been built for 148 tweets. This means that the dialogue is delivered with the included sound effect, lifted directly from the platform.


Sound design goes further and becomes a defining feature because the symbolic acronym social media defines much of the content. Perspectives are subjective, and dialogue is designed around a culture of sound biting, which makes things feel unrealistic. Photographer Ari Wegner jumps out of the obvious, filming style via smartphone. He also embraces Arthouse elements by looping images into a single frame alongside specific sound design options. The unfortunate side effect is that this shelter, which focuses on the lousy sex trade, is constantly overshadowed by technical ability.

Among the actors, Colman Domingo stands head and shoulders above everyone else on screen as an X. A money-catching pimp is an outrageous choice in shirts as well as one nasty character. His habits are derogatory, intentions of selfish and medieval methods of discipline. It’s amazing that he’s able to shape a character that engages and stays empathetic to the audience.


In addition to this, the dissection of objectification that Janicza Bravo is trying to address has also been robbed of influence by this lavish Arthouse approach. Sexual acts, while graphic, are empty things that are performed quietly outside the screen. At the same time, men are classified in the same casual way a person browses Instagram, while all feelings of detachment nullify all satisfaction.

This approach distracts from the performances, reduces the cinematic elements, and records the artistry of the film. In short, so many whistles and bells ring all the time that Zola feels like a mixture of the invention, and not something coherent and thoughtful. While there is no doubt about Janicza Bravo’s talent as a filmmaker with tremendous potential, Zola feels like a business card or an expanded roll of reel instead of a dazzling debut others might signify.

Flickering myth rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Martin Carr

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