There are eyes, and then there are Taylour Paige's eyes.
In Zola, a crackling, absurdist road trip movie inspired by a crackling, absurdist Twitter thread, the camera's gaze is frequently drawn to the bodily form—a stripper's smooth, exposed curves; a man's languid, exposed junk; lips being painted a deep cherry red; long, slender fingernails clinking against a window.
But then there are Paige's eyes, which convey more in a shift, squint, or roll than some performers can with their entire corporeal being. Those glances, those looks, are the delectable amuse-bouche in this feast of storytelling, and a grounding presence for the viewer amidst all the madness and weirdness that ultimately unfolds.
But hold up—insert brief freeze-frame here—allow me to back up and explain. In 2015, a Detroit waitress and exotic dancer named A'Ziah "Zola" King crafted a viral, vivid 148-tweet thread recounting a wild trip she took to Tampa, Fla. upon an invitation from Jessica, a white woman and fellow exotic dancer she'd known for exactly one day. The story involved a cast of indelible characters, including Jessica's pimp Z, a menacing dude who would suddenly possess an "African accent" during fits of rage, and Jessica's boyfriend Jarret, an awkward, pitiful guy who just wanted her to stop being a sex worker.
Yet Zola herself was undoubtedly the star of this story. From that very first opening line, accompanied by selfies of the author and Jessica together, it was obvious she has a bold personality and a spiky way with words: "Y'all wanna hear a story about why me and this b---- here fell out???????? It's kind of long but full of suspense."