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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Zola

Available in Theaters now / Film & TV

In 2015, a woman named Aziah “Zola” Wells tweeted, “Y’all wanna hear a story about why me & this b-tch here fell out?! It’s kinda long but full of suspense.” Hailed by Rolling Stone as the GREATEST STRIPPER SAGA EVER TWEETED, the subsequent viral thread outlined a tale of stripping, sex trafficking, suicide, and even a shooting that was quickly optioned by A24. Five years later, Zola debuts, a sparkling and propulsive chronicle about the titular protagonist (Taylour Paige), who joins her new friend, Stefani (Riley Keough), on a drive from Detroit to Florida to strip in new clubs, accompanied by X (Colman Domingo), their driver, and Derrek, Stefani’s hapless boyfriend (Nicholas Braun). As the group heads deeper into the Sunshine State, darker currents begin to rise to the trip’s glittery, champagne-soaked, and ocean-lined surface—it goes south, literally and figuratively. Co-written by Jeremy O. Harris (of the record-breaking Slave Play) and Janicza Bravo, who also directed, the cinematic iteration of Zola’s Twitter thread, which felt very Spring Breakers, is a slower burn, drawn out in particular by standout performances while still maintaining the dark humor of Zola’s legendary tweets.—Clementine Ford

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