Critic Reviews



Based on 13 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Though premised on the slight pretenses of Twitter, the world of Bravo’s film is no fictionalized, seedily appealing underbelly. It’s simply America: often frightful, sometimes grimly amusing, and ever rattling along in its entropy.
If Paige and Keogh weren’t both such indelible, fiercely charismatic characters, the whole thing could easily fall apart. But their presence, and Bravo’s singular vision, give Zola a sort of electric buzz: the thrill of watching something stranger than fiction, and somehow better than true.
Director Janicza Bravo’s zany road trip comedy about a pair of strippers on a rambunctious 48-hour Florida adventure embodies its ludicrous source while jazzing it up with relentless cinematic beats.
Empowering, saddening, amusing and aggravating in roughly equal measure, with a very small side order of social critique, Bravo’s film marks a huge step up for her and a definitive answer to the question that @_zolarmoon posed to Twitter in October of 2015: yes, y’all do wanna hear the story about why she and this bitch here fell out!!!!!!!!
More or less playing straight man to Keough's comically unflappable liability, the incandescent Paige conveys the disappointment, even disdain, of Zola for a woman she believed was a friend, but also subtly introduces notes of poignancy as she figures out ways to stay safe in the stickiest situations. Her self-possession is a thing of beauty.
Accompanied by Mica Levi’s score–which mixes fairytale-esque harps to introduce the story and Southern-fried beats and synths as the craziness progresses–Bravo elevates the material and provides a unified, eccentric vision.
It’s crass, it’s cruel, it’s wild, it’s often hilariously funny.
As funny and ferocious as much of “Zola” is, it’s let down by an increasingly haphazard script that doesn’t know how to either sustain its humor or negotiate its turn into darker territory — and so, disappointingly, it waffles.
The Twitter-to-screen adaptation of Zola is as scrappy and imperfect as the original story but just as likable. There’s something unusually compelling about what Bravo does with the material that makes up for its missteps.
It’s ultimately unsatisfying—more style than substance.

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