Zola

Zola ★★★★

A vérité celluloid drift in place of a neon-drenched spree, Janicza Bravo directs Zola with the wry desolation that defined a certain brand of idiosyncratic, independent, director-driven comedies of the 1990s, only updated for the iPhone generation. It’s a starkly confident choice that pays off consistently, as often as the writing defies expectations. I was taken with Bravo’s perspective, the way she makes big moments small and small moments big, and yet despite some necessary mocking, keeps all her characters cut down to the same size. The torrent of marketing that accompanied Zola’s release, awash in airbrushed millennial pink, felt cacophonous and generic, two things the movie is blessedly not. I’m happy the best parts were excluded from the commercial spots and Instagram clips because they pack a harder punch when encountered in a packed room in the dark. Never underestimate the element of surprise.