Stefani, it turns out, has ensnared Zola in a far more dangerous scheme than just pole dancing; with her wide-eyed, gum-snapping stare, she exudes seductive charm, but almost everything she says is bogus. Keough delivers her lines in an affected African American patois, a virtuosic turn in which some might detect the whiff of her grandfather Elvis Presley’s music, itself a product of both organic cultural absorption and outright appropriation. But there all mentions of Presley should end. Keough comes fully, even triumphantly, into her own in “Zola,” which marks her arrival as an exceptional actress. She has played similar parts before, in the movie “American Honey” and the Starz series “The Girlfriend Experience.” Here, she vaults above and beyond even those impressive turns to deliver a performance that’s fearless, funny and, as Stefani’s true complicity becomes more obvious, terrifying.
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