film reel image

film reel image

Monday, February 27, 2023

Zola 2020 * 1/2 Stars


A waitress from Detroit finds a new friend, goes to Tampa, thinks she's doing some stripping, and ends up being involved in a small prostitution ring. That's the rub of 2020's Zola, a disjointed vehicle that's aimlessness comes from the fact it's based on a Twitter thread. Wha? You heard me, a Twitter thread. Man reading those things can be a totally head-scratching experience. 

So yeah, Zola kind of reminded me of Oscar winner Moonlight. It's in the look and well, the overall landscape (Florida, USA). That's where the comparisons end because "reminded" can be a darn, broad term these days. I mean Zola had a chance to be good but its director (Janicza Bravo) decided rather to be faithful and stay on script. Why? To honor this almighty social media post? I'm not buying it. 

Zola is not a movie mind you but a series of scenes posing as a movie. Bravo commits to every shot but what's the point if every one of them is in the form of some overused cinematic gimmick or technique. When a tense moment arises or a stirring nugget gets established, Zola deflects. Its aspect of impetus gets lost on the viewer. A character constantly talking into the camera, the freezing of a frame, some random narration, a dream sequence. In the end it all appears arbitrary when it comes to Zola. For reals.    

Like I said in the last paragraph, Janicza Bravo commits. Guess what, so do her troupers (Taylor Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun) and um, maybe they commit a little too much. In Zola, it all appears like some sort of strange method acting where everyone portrays vexing, urban stereotypes. I mean how can you recommend a flick when the whole cast is channeling their inner B-Rad G? I couldn't and won't. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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