clemmie’s review published on Letterboxd:
i'm soooooooo obsessed. truly the thotyssey. i want to be selfish and say that this is like some weird movie that caters to all my cinematic interests specifically because it's so good. there are so many silly little moments throughout this whole thing that i've been thinking about across all aspects of this. it's so obvious why everyone and their grandma has been talking about this thread for almost 7 years, but the movie takes that material, puts it on a pedestal, and makes me feel like those tweets (and this movie) should be displayed in the louvre.
not to sound corny but zola's thread is more than just a twitter thread. i don't wanna be one of those "read the book before the movie" people but you really do need to read it before you see it (but like, why haven't you read it already?). there are so many offhand details from the original twitter thread that are turned into these weird dreamlike moments, but it still works if you haven't read it (you really should though).
i understand how a lot of the draw of this film is based on the gimmick that it's adapted from tweets because that really has never been done before - but it's genuinely a fascinating and gripping piece of text. zola is so confident and expressive in her writing while also being funny as fuck. i can't express to you how many quotes from this thread have been circling my mind for years (personal fav: "so we vibing over our hoeism or whatever").
this movie is so visually (and auditorily) online and that's such a necessary part of the story. it's always interesting seeing period pieces for material set in the last decade or so (that was one of my favorite elements of uncut gems). The film's personality being so codependent on internet culture elevates itself from being a standard period piece with vine references and migos songs thrown in there - it's an integral reason as to why this movie works as well as it does. when i realized that the little send tweet sound effect that kept popping up randomly only happened whenever someone quoted the thread...it was just confetti and balloons in my brain. the time title cards being the 2015 iphone lockscreen, notification sounds making their way into mica levi's score (which was beautiful by the way), i could go on and on and on.
i love how much janicza bravo is clearly obsessed with this story. my sister and i were watching interviews with her and the cast before watching seeing this and you can tell that she really went all the way. she apparently compiled literally *every* piece of information on the original story, she had elaborate visions for the wardrobe, the lighting, character gestures (!!!) etc. this movie being told by someone as passionate and borderline obsessed with this crazy ass story makes it feel so much more special. even if you didn't know about the history of janicza's fascination with the thread you can very clearly see that when watching the film. i really don't like the comparisons to sean baker or spring breakers because aside from those things being completely different, janicza's work has such fresh, vibrant and obsessive elements that i've never seen like this before.
i haven't heard too many people discuss taylour paige's performance in this, which is weird to me because i feel like she's the crux of both the film's humor and emotion. although the world the movie is set in is visibly off in almost an alternate reality kinda way, it's all still real as fuck. to be honest, a lot of the time in real-life situations, i feel like zola!!! (and that makes some of you hoes jess!). the whole weird otherworldly vibe it had worked even better with zola specifically as the protagonist. she's the only real one there, and i think people aren't realizing that her perspective is integral to how well all the other characters work just because she's not as in your face crazy as anyone else there.
riley's performance as jess fits so well in this bubbly surrealist landscape janicza has created. she really had slicked-back baby hairs! (or full mortgage hairs with kids and a 401k). it's such a weird but real depiction of in-your-face appropriation that goes at a nonstop pace, but it doesn't feel like the sole purpose of her performance/character is to laugh at how "ratchet" and woahvicky-esque she is. to be honest it's such an in-your-face critique of wannabe-black culture that i'm surprised all the non-black people have either surface-level interpretations of that or nothing at all - reading the top reviews on here is very much people telling on themselves in regards to that.
it all goes back to perspective - i think specifically janicza (a black woman) co-writing and directing this story gives such a real understanding of what interacting with people like that is like - which rings true for the original twitter thread. no shade but like if james franco ended up directing it like he was supposed to years ago, that empathy and ability to tell a story like this without at the very least exploitative and gaze-y. i'm very happy it was so clearly from zola's point of view (beyond the movie, the real zola too) and not some random guy who doesn't get it.
also this is more of a personal thing but it's really cool seeing a black woman be in the forefront of surrealist media (on and off-screen!) i never really see that and that starts to fall into the bubble of the stuff i wanna make. i never would've expected for the zola story to be told in that direction but honestly, that makes me even more obsessed with it. there's no better way to tell this crazy ass story than being crazy in your face about it. everyone did their homework.
ending this with a quote from the excellent Aziah "Zola" Kingola: ".....i was like this nigga lost in the sauce and his bitch lost in the game"