Zola, a Detroit waitress with some serious pole-dancing chops (a radiant, assured Taylour Paige, anchoring the film) agrees to go along with a sexy new friend (Riley Keough), that friend’s idiot boyfriend and a nameless third fellow on a party-hearty road trip to Florida. Get some sun, have some fun, make a little money dancing. But it soon becomes apparent that more than mere exotic dancing will be involved, and a much wilder-than-expected ride ensues.
Director Janicza Bravo’s well-crafted, knowing film (co-written with Jeremy O. Harris) is all over the place, at times whimsical and playful, poking grim fun at sex-trade johns (cue the penis montage), at others tense and threatening. But always brutally honest, very, very real, and wholly original.
The reason for all this is that this film may be the very first in cinema history to have as its source material a Twitter thread. A real one by A’Ziah “Zola” King. Yet it avoids gimmickry. Most of this stuff actually happened.
As the movie began, I was thinking this is not exactly in the wheelhouse of renowned indie studio A24. But by the end, of course it is. Not to be missed. (86 min)