Riley Keough's next film, the critically acclaimed 2020 Sundance Film Festival hit Zola, finally has a teaser. Earlier this month, distributor A24 released a 40-second spot for Zola, which was supposed to be released at some point this year. The film, based on an astonishing 2015 viral Twitter thread by Aziah "Zola" Wells, still does not have a release date. Keough, the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter of Elvis Presley, co-stars in the film as a sex worker who takes Zola on the crazy cross-country trip that dominates the fast-paced, 90-minute film.
The brief teaser shows newcomer Taylour Paige as Wells and Keough as Stefani touching up their makeup in a neon-lit room. "You wanna hear a story about how me and this b— here fell out?" Paige as Wells asks in the narration. "It's kinda long but full of suspense." A message on the screen tells viewers "most" of the story is true. In the end, A24 teases the film as "coming soon," so there is still no release date set due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The story is inspired by Wells' marathon 148-tweet 2015 Twitter thread and her Rolling Stone profile by David Kushner. It was directed by Janicza Bravo (Lemon, Atlanta), who co-wrote the script with playwright Jeremy O. Harris. The thread detailed Wells' trip across the country with a sex worker, identified as Jessica in the tweet.
In the film version, Keough's character is Stefani, the stand-in for Jessica, whom Zola met at a restaurant. The two became friends over their interest in pole dancing. A day after they exchanged phone numbers, Stefani invites Zola to go on a trip across the country in the hope of making money while dancing at strip clubs in Florida. The trip gets out of hand quickly, as Stefani brings in her boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun) and her violent pimp X (Colman Domingo) into the fold.
Zola was a big hit with critics at Sundance and holds an 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In a positive review for Entertainment Weekly, Leah Greenblatt praised Keough and Paige's performances and Bravo's direction. "Their presence, and Bravo's singular vision, give Zola a sort of electric buzz: the thrill of watching something stranger than fiction, and somehow better than true," Greenblatt wrote.
Whenever Zola is finally released, this will be the first time is seen on the big screen since she appeared in 2019's Earthquake Bird, which was released on Netflix in November. Keough, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for the first season of The Girlfriend Experience, also stars in The Devil All The Time, which hits Netflix on Sept. 16. She will also be seen in Amazon's upcoming Daisy Jones & The Six miniseries.