By Mr. Will Wong
A story so wild, it had to be true! Detroit Waitress Aziah “Zola” King (played by Taylour Paige) gained notoriety in 2015, Tweeting a 148-Tweet-long thread chronicling an unbelievable journey on which she embarked. She recalls the messy fall-out with a friend whom she met at the restaurant at which she worked. Her new friend (portrayed by Riley Keough as Stefani), a sex worker, had convinced her to go on a wild adventure dancing at Florida strip clubs to earn some cash. What begins as harmless fun, soon spirals into the scary as we get a glimpse into the dark world of Sex Trafficking. We wonder how Zola made it out alive, with Stefani‘s pimp X (Colman Domingo) and some other sketchy and dangerous characters entering the picture.
ZOLA is brought to the screen by Director/Co-Writer Janicza Bravo and we get what has to have been the most fun we’ve had this year! Bravo manages to take the source material, creatively blurring the lines between suspense, fun and drama in a tidy, stylish 90-minute package. We see Zola get duped and pay for it dearly. Through it all, she still tries to help Stefani make a little fortune before she realizes nobody has her best interests at heart. In all the chaos and suspense, the Film manages to gain clarity about self-realization, giving us an insider’s look at how seamlessly a woman can fall prey to a web of Sex Trafficking. And we’re a little bit better for it all.
Paige is our conduit into this nightmarish ride and captures Zola‘s good nature, but questionable choices. Gradually, we see Zola‘s guard go up as her defense mechanisms kick-in, as they should with the crazy things she encounters. While this Film was meant to be seen sooner, she already has some fantastic work to her resume like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Boogie. This however, is her true breakout role. Keough is a standout, absolutely commanding the screen with Stefani‘s presence, living recklessly, not caring at what expense that money comes. Above this, her mastery of Ebonics is a marvel and we bought it. Keough is in on the fun, well aware of Stefani‘s ridiculousness, but completely committed to telling Stefani‘s truth… even it is full of lies.
“Y’all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out?”. You bet your phat ass we do!
VVS Films release ZOLA in theatres June 30, 2021, additional cities to follow.
Release pattern as follows:
Forum (English) – on 6/30
Cinema du Parc (French subtitled) – on 6/30
LeClap, St-Foy (French subtitled) – on 6/30
International Village – on 6/30
Colossus Langley – on 6/30
Odeon Victoria – on 6/30
Landmark Grand 10
Cineplex Cinemas Eau Claire
Cineplex South Edmonton
Cineplex Park Lane
*Please ensure you exercise caution in observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre*.