Zola review – stylish viral tweet-based sex and crime caper

Fantastic performances, including breakout Taylour Paige, and confident direction from Janicza Bravo lift an often bumpy ride

The story of Zola seduced the attention of the internet back in 2015 not only because of its high quotient of narrative left turns and lurid details, but because it showed the hitherto unseen power of Twitter as a tool for compelling longform storytelling. In the space of about 148 tweets, Detroit waitress Aziah “Zola” Wells spun a staggering tale of a trip to Florida that went horribly wrong with conviction and wit sparking the interest of Hollywood with an impassioned battle for rights. Initially James Franco won out but the production was shelved after accusations of sexual misconduct and the following year, the indie director Janicza Bravo came onboard, a development that seems all the more like kismet given both the subject matter and the importance of a woman of colour being given the reins.
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