‘Zola’: A Mesmerizing Film From Janicza Bravo

Zola is brought to life from a twitter thread and works on all grounds being translated to the big screen.

CREDIT: A24

Zola is the newest A24 distributed film directed by Janicza Bravo. The film stars Taylour Paige as Zola a stripper who befriends Stefani played by Riley Keough and travels to Tampa, Florida to make some money at a strip club. What seems like your normal work roadtrip turns into an absolute nightmare for Zola. The film also stars Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, and Ari’el Stachel along with some familiar faces like Jason Mitchell. The film is adapted from an article based on the first thread of tweets by Aziah “Zola” King who is credited as Executive Producer on the film as well.

Zola is a chaotic ride but a pleasant one nonetheless filled with great performances from our main four actors, an impressive script, and magnificent direction from Janicza Bravo. Of course, Taylour Paige excels in her role as our titular character and owns every scene she is in with her composed and poised devotion to the portrayal of the character. I found myself even more mesmerized by Colman Domingo’s performance as X the roommate/pimp. Domingo from the get go brings the looming fear and carries his character so that you feel his presence even when he is not on screen.

Now because I am not one to spend a lot of time on the internet or really pay much attention to the toxic world of Twitter, I miss out on crazy stuff like this thread of tweets that King tweeted. I went into this completely blind about what this was about. Everyone kept talking about how this was about a thread but I had no idea what that was. What I watched was truly special and one of the most mature pieces of art I have seen. The approach to the sex work experience but especially as Taylour Paige said specifically the experience of black women sex workers brought a very appreciated level of authenticity. The style brought out by incredible lighting, script choices, and an aesthetic brought out by beautiful 16mm film stock makes for a unique film from Janicza Bravo. Zola is a film that still has not left my mind and is for sure one of my favorites of this year. I hope to see Aziah King aka Zola work with filmmakers more and present some of the thousands of stories she has for film ideas. I am also eagerly anticipating the next Janicza Bravo film. Overall, I can say that this is a film worth watching and I cannot wait to rewatch it!

Zola is in theaters and can be rented/streamed via Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and other platforms.