BY JEBODA ABDULAZEEZ
Well crafted, executed, and replete with meme-able scenes, Nigeria’s latest flick to hit Netflix screens deals with a sensitive subject Nigerians are are sadly too familiar with: sexual exploitation, specifically of female students in the country’s higher institutions.
“Citation” is directed by Kunle Afolayan, who is quickly establishing himself as Nollywood’s (a term for Nigeria’s movie industry) very best. Released on Netflix on November 6, It has received mixed-to-positive reception from critics and viewers. The social media buzz surrounding the movie can be narrowed down to the fact that the movie was largely shot at Obafemi Awolowo University, one of the most influential Universities in the country (perhaps ironically, also one of the institutions where sexual harassment incidents have been reported the most), and the casting of Tèmi Otedola, the top model daughter of billionaire businessman Femi Otedola and sister of “former” Arsenal fan DJ Cuppy in the lead role. It also casts Jimmy Jean Louise, Joke Silver, Yomi Fash Lanso, Gabriel Afolayan, Ini Edo and Sodiq Daba, in no order of importance.
Citation hovers around the sex-for-grade theme. It centres on a brilliant young post graduate student, Moremi Oluwa who is admired by her lecturer, Professor Lucien N’dyare. The admiration turns to infatuation and the lecturer tries everything to have her to himself. On a fateful night after everyone has left during the Easter get together party at the Professor’s house, the professor attempts to sexually assault Moremi. Moremi uses the karate technique she learnt from her boyfriend and escaped from the lecturer’s house. N’dyare, aiming to make Moremi suffer for rejecting him, decides to give her a failing grade. Moremi reports the lecturer to the university senate. A drawn out investigation ensues, at the end of which she is vindicated.
Just like in his critically acclaimed 2014 movie October 1st, Afolayan heavily uses flashbacks, with some differences in the application. The flashbacks used in Citation examine the trauma that is experienced by the victims of sexual assault. Through the flashbacks, viewers see how much the assault changed her. Moremi before the incident was a free-to-all, bubbly young lady, but the version of her that emerges after the assault is rather withdrawn, sad, and fighting just to stay alive.
The music and the cinematography deployed fit perfectly. The general atmosphere suggests gloominess, desolation and downheartedness. The cinematographer, Jonathan Kovel’s camera work also provides a sense of seriousness and paranoia. Really great work from the crew
The movie also addresses the issue of taking laws to one’s hand. As unfortunate as sex-for-grade incidents may be, it should not be an avenue to indulge in mob justice. The movie advises that if such situation arises, the affected student should instead report to the appropriate quarters.
In addition, the the actors made a great effort to fit in their roles. Temi Otedola really nailed it as Moremi Oluwa. It is commendable that she is able to wear the two sides to her character, on her big screen debut, in a near 3-hour-long movie. She fits right under the set lights, and we can’t wait to see her on screen again.
Citation is of course imperfect. The movie is unnecessarily overstretched. That plot, in my opinion, could have been achieved in much lesser time, and some scenes are simply timewasting redundancies. For example, too much time is expended in the Seun Kuti concert scene. The scene doesn’t contribute anything important to the movie. Also, perhaps Afolayan really enjoyed his time in Dakar, and he makes certain we know that.
And then, what’s with Moremi’s Yoruba? Temi speaks the language like a non native, and her character clearly needed to justify the cultural significance of her name- Moremi is a Yoruba folk hero who stood up to male rulers. More context should have been provided to explain why she could not fluently speak her mother tongue. For Yoruba viewers, the movie gets a little more uncomfortable each time she says something in Yoruba, which she does. A lot.
The small flaws aside Citation is generally a delight to watch. I score it a solid 6/10.