Despite the acclaim distributor A24 has among the film community for being arbiters of taste, capable of picking unexpected gems of entertainment and making them sparkle at the speciality box office, it is much more noticeable when they unfortunately pick up for lack of a better word, a dud. Zola, much like Mid90s is such a film with the idea behind it being far more interesting and imaginative than the finished product. Telling the story of Zola (Taylour Paige) and her ill fated trip down to Florida to dance along with her ‘friend’ Stephani (Riley Keough). Based off a very real twitter thread that is far more ‘full of suspense’ than the feature adaptation, director Janicza Bravo’s 85 minute extravaganza is a slog to get through.
Characters amble around blustering instead of actually talking as if the slim musings of an unreliable narrator mean that everyone around her can pontificate in text speak unless they are needed to point something out the film doesn’t manage to provide in visuals. Shot in the same grainy style as Mid90s without the nostalgia factor in play, Zola really feels like a grimy dream sequence, stretched out to the point that outlandish antics become perfectly normal for this films series of unpleasant protagonists. There is plenty here to be said about the representation of women and how we both idolise and judge them in equal measure but as a piece of entertainment, one meant to tell a story instead of an idea of one, Zola just meanders to an ending that gives you nothing but questions of what the point was in the first place.