Movie Review: “Zola” draws laughs from Florida human trafficking problem

This isn’t going to be a traditional movie review from me.

“Zola arrives” at Orlando area movie theaters this week and given the fact that we live in one of the most concentrated places for sex worker human trafficking in the country, I couldn’t set myself apart from it.

It won’t be receiving a grade from me.

The story is taken from a 2015 Twitter feed, and involves two strippers who recently befriended each other before heading to Tampa for a night of dancing at a club and a big financial score. When Zola discovers her new friend Stefani has set her up to be an escort, everything goes crazy.

This film hits everything about human trafficking directly on the head. From the way hotels play as meeting areas for these forced set ups, to the regular physically abusive treatment of the women.

I wish the film’s producers could have been more thoughtful about the lives destroyed by human trafficking. A disclaimer at the beginning of the movie. A campaign that ran side by side with the promotion of the film raising awareness, all of that might have made this story a little easier to digest.

The stars, Taylour Paige and Riley Keough shouldn’t be punished here. And really neither should director, Janicza Bravo. The film is competent. “Zola” is getting many other positive reviews from other movie critics.

But as someone from Orlando who has pushed for ordinances that try to prevent exactly what we see in the movie, I couldn’t ignore it’s subject matter for a clean review.

While I have you here, human trafficking does happen here in the I4 corridor all of the time. If you think you see it happening, it’s worth telling someone.

You might just be saving a life and you’ll be taking one further step towards eliminating this disease on our community.



Rated: R

Running Time:1 hour 29 minutes

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