5.5/10 Based upon a 148-tweet thread from a stripper and turned into a follow up article from Rolling Stone, “Zola” recounts the story of a stripper who gets invited to Florida for the weekend to earn some money “dancing”. In a clear case of stranger danger, she gets in over her head and gets caught up in a story involving prostitution, murder, robbery, attempted suicide, etc. While determined that some of Zola’s story she initially Tweeted out was embellished, the overall gist of the story was confirmed by all parties involved. Turning some Tweets into a fully fleshed out film was always going to be a challenge but the movie achieves some of its goals while falling flat in other respects. For example, the movie comes in at under an hour and a half but even then there are overly long shots of our main characters riding in their car that seem to go on forever to simply pad the running time. There are several moments like this that go on too long or were unnecessary which can easily make a short movie feel long. The editing was definitely a mixed bag as on one hand there were some clever editing techniques (a montage during a night of prostitution was very creative) and on the other hand, certain scenes needed to be cut down (or out) and other scene transitions felt unnatural. It is hard to root for any of the characters seeing as how most of them are either bad people or extremely trashy. Much of the story is sad in a way since most of what happened was true. The best two components of the movie were the acting and the score. The score uses dream like harps and makes you feel like you are floating on a cloud, above all of the grime and filth we see happening in the movie. It is an interesting contrast but one that works well and composer Mica Levi AKA Micachu continues to provide some of the best original scores in Hollywood. Following “Under the Skin” and “Jackie”, her music alone will bring me to the films she attaches herself too. The actors had to play some trashy people and the brave and talented Riley Keough continues to impress as she is constantly taking part in daring, independent features like this. She never shies away from dark subject matter and gives a memorable performance that stood above every other performance in the movie. Everyone is putting in great work and there are some creative moments from director Janicza Bravo in the movie as well as some dark humor that had the audience, including myself, laughing out loud. The movie is graphic, nonconsequential and not for mainstream audiences but I generally applaud the film makers for attempting to turn some Tweets into a feature length movie. It doesn’t completely succeed but individual talents in front of and behind the camera continue to highlight their talent and I look forward to what they work on next.

#TheFloridaProject2 / #MaRaineysRockBottom / #IfRealStreetsCouldTalk / #Bloodbound / #DontWelcomeTheStranger / #BackWages

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