Zola Movie Review

Zola (Taylour Paige) makes her living as a stripper in Detroit. She lives with her boyfriend who keeps telling her that she does not need to live that kind of life because he will be able to take care of her soon. She is independent and can earn a good living for herself. Money is independence in Zola’s book. She meets Stefani (Riley Keough) at her club and instantly connects with her. Stefani and Zola become fast friends, working the same shift at the club, texting each other all the time, going to get food after their shifts.

Stefani calls Zola to take a weekend drive to Florida, with her, her friend, and her dumb boyfriend. At first Zola is not interested, she changes her mind when Stephani tells her that a friend of hers just came back into town after making 5 grand down in Miami. Zola is bored and her new BFF is dangling the promise for them to make a lot of cash at the clubs in Florida. She is tired of the day to day with her man, so she takes off with Stefani.

The following 48 hours is a progressively burning dumpster fire for Zola as she is unwittingly drawn into the much seedier life of her “friend” Stefani. Zola figures out quick that Stefani’s friend X (Coleman Domingo) is her pimp, and her boyfriend Derreck (Nicholas Braun) is an idiot. We see the story from Zola’s viewpoint. She put her foot down and refused to hook for X. Since Zola is unable to leave, and sees her friend as a hapless victim, she stays to watch out for Stefani. We are shown a montage of flaccid male frontals as Zola takes in the nights ongoings ensuring her friend’s safety.

The screenplay was developed from a 2015 twitter thread about sex trafficking. The subject did not seem to be the driving force of the plot. To me, it came off as a cautionary tale of a woman who is reminded of who she was and who she wants to be. The grass is definitely not greener on the Stefani side.

The director and co-writer of the screenplay Janicza Bravo has definitely turned the genre on its head. Having all the women who were dancers covered by pasties. There was no female nudity. The twist was in the film, the men are the objectified.

Taylour Paige was quite good in drawing the audience in and taking them on Zola’s journey. I felt her frustration, annoyance, fear and hurt from the 48-hour reminder of her past life. She was the character that kept me invested to finish watching.

I do understand the story that the writers were trying to tell, but the plot needed to have more context to deliver the message.

2.5 out of 5