One of my favorite things about going to see this movie was going into it completely blind. I had no clue what the ‘Zola’ tweets were, and I didn’t care to invest my time until after seeing the movie. If you haven’t read the tweets, I highly recommend that you do the same.
Honestly, I legit wanted to write about a trillion words about one thing about this movie, Colman Domingo. Is there a cooler guy than Colman Domingo?
When you first see X (Colman Domingo), I thought about the line from Moneyball that Pittaro said to Billy Beane.
This guy’s got an attitude. An attitude that’s good. I like the way he walks into a room. Kid’s so confident I mean, he’s the kinda guy, he walks into a room and his dick gets there two minutes before he does.Pittaro – Moneyball
You don’t hear a single word that comes out of his mouth and you know that his presence will be the highlight of the movie. Sometimes writers in Hollywood feel the need to blur the lines of our antagonists and try to make them have some redeeming qualities. What writers Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O’Harris get right is the writing of X. Nothing about this man is likable, nothing, he may ooze that charisma, he may be that guy that everyone wants to look at him be. Still, when he opens his mouth, you immediately hate him—every single word that comes out of his mouth you hate more and more. The writing is excellent, but the delivery is everything. Domingo skyrocketed to the top of my supporting actor list, and rightfully so. Without this performance, the movie doesn’t work at all.
I’ve seen a lot of talk about Riley Keough and her performance, which was tremendous BUT, for me, Taylour Paige is a knockout as Zola. The little things that she did make me fall in love with the way she portrayed this role. We know Zola wanted no part in what was going on, but there is a moment where we see her flip this switch and turn into this badass that sells you on her in this role. Even as we inched closer to the end of the movie, and she had this raw moment, she doesn’t say two words, but with the looks on her face, you felt that you give her that empathy that is needed.
Nicholas Braun provided comedy relief in the movie, and at times he was a bit annoying, which I understand Derrek was supposed to be, but it becomes unbearable at times.
The tippy score brought to us by Mica Levi is what sold me on this film within the first twenty minutes. The entire team does a remarkable job of taking her score and utilizing it to enhance the storytelling. Between this and the cinematography, the movie was a technical knockout.
I had some issues with how the second act was structured, which took away from my overall score but didn’t take you out of the movie. But, the third act, which includes the hotel scene that is hands down one of my favorite sequences, is brilliant. The intensity you felt throughout this entire scene was a masterclass of editing, direction and acting.
Although that third act is strong, the ending still has me on the fence and I think it will require another viewing before I fully cement my thoughts on the movie as a whole. Now that I have seen the movie, I will make my way to read these tweets that ignited this fun movie.
The Verdict: B+ (4/5 stars)
Zola is an electric piece of filmmaking that is highlighted by two powerhouse performances
by Colman Domingo and Taylour Paige.