Zola’s thrill seems a bit lost in translation from a viral Twitter feed to a motion picture.

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Zola’s thrill seems a bit lost in translation from a viral Twitter feed to a motion picture.

Director(s) Janicza Bravo
Screenplay By Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris
Date Released 6/29/2021
Where Can You Watch? In Theaters
Genre(s) Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Biopic
Duration 1 Hour 30 Minutes
MPAA Rating R
Noted Cast
Zola               Taylour Paige
Stephanie               Riley Keough
X Colman Domingo
Derrek Nicholas Braun

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

While under the impression she could quickly make thousands of dollars over a single weekend dancing, Zola ends up tangled into the drama of a woman named Stephanie. Someone who has a pimp named X, a boyfriend named Derrek, and clearly has Zola all the way f***ed up.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Gun violence, sexual content (lots of close-ups on male genitalia and occasionally Taylour Paige’s butt), police brutality, cursing, and bodily fluids (vomiting and implied urine)

Review/ Commentary


It Has Some Comical Moments

Between Zola’s commentary on what is going on, X going from the quiet storm voice you are used to hearing from Colman Domingo to something Caribbean, and so many other situations! Oh, while not utterly hilarious, you will get a chuckle. Add in Derrek, who can be so pathetic he can be funny, and you will have just enough moments of laughter to get you through the movie.

Colman Domingo May Surprise You

X (Colman Domingo) talking to Zola
X (Colman Domingo)

When it comes to Colman Domingo, he usually is calm, cool, and collected. Heck, even when playing characters who are in an emotional state, there is this level of control there that chills the situation out. As X, Domingo brings that same cool papa persona, but him calling Zola a b****? Also, him being Stephanie’s pimp reminds you how an actor can bring themselves to a role, and all that you love while bringing a different flavor. Thus shaking things up just enough for you to not see it as just Domingo in another role, yet not losing that charisma and star power that drew you in and perhaps got you to buy a ticket.

Low Points

The Shock Wears Off Quick

While Zola is supposed to be a bit of a thrill ride because of all the drama, it doesn’t really live up to the hype. You recognize that Zola’s situation would be uncomfortable, traumatic even, but the way it plays out, Zola is more annoyed than anything. Which, with the way Paige performs in the situation, it often undermines Domingo’s performance and the situations Keough is put under. Thus making you almost as unaffected and jaded as Zola becomes.

On The Fence


Derrek is the type of character who is funny at first, but as time goes on, what he goes through isn’t funny anymore. This man deeply loves Stephanie and seems to want to save her, yet refuses to recognize that X’s hold is so tight on her, there isn’t much Derrek can really do at this point in time. All he can do is wait, and, clearly, that is becoming something that isn’t good for his mental health. Thus making a foolish man go from comical to a mood killer.

Who Is This For?

Stephanie (Riley Keough) and Zola (Taylour Paige) before things went bad
Stephanie (Riley Keough) and Zola (Taylour Paige)

Those who’d rather visuals than just reading the story[1].


Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

There is a constant chase to monetize and capitalize on viral moments, and like many, what was fun and outrageous initially doesn’t translate well once actors and other people get involved. That is the case for Zola, which may have Aziah King’s style of talking and performers who try to put you in the moment, but it sadly doesn’t work, and like the viral moment this is based on, Zola likely will soon be forgotten.

[1] Imgur: https://imgur.com/a/WDwyW

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