‘Citation’ Review: Inside Kunle Afolayan’s Nifty Film on Sexual Assault in Nigerian Universities

Tolulope Ebiseni
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Celebrated Nollywood director, Kunle Afolayan has always had a knack for creating meaningful and socially conscious films over the years. Like many of his productions, the portrayal of relevant and cogent issues usually come into play. Likewise, Citation did not fall short of his especial metier.

The Netflix original, which follows the travails of Moremi Oluwa (Temi Otedola) when she accuses her lecturer (Jimmy Jean Louis) of attempted rape. This comes in light of the several agitations for an end to sex for grades, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence in Nigerian universities. The film is said to be inspired by real-life events; every Nigerian student knows this for a fact that this malady isn’t uncommon for Nigerian universities.  

The screenplay makes use of flashbacks to convey the story, revealing relevant information piece by piece. The screenwriter makes use of the flashback technique throughout the film because of the film’s investigative nature and it proves potent. 

Citation conveys several emotions, it could be admiration for its beautiful scenery or rage and anger because of its thought-provoking subject matter, regardless of whatever you feel you want to get to the root of its captivating story.

The film’s location includes Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Cape Verde, and Senegal. The locations used in the film were more like characters rather than props. The university structures were a sight to behold, the lens moved through the beautiful and serene scenery of the university and it added a little bit of calmness to the film. Most times, films with such subject matter are difficult to watch because they will most likely trigger the audience—the screenplay tells the story with a lighter tone than most of its counterparts. Sexual harassment and rape are endemic in Nigeria, as such, films with this subject matter resonate with the audience and may trigger emotions and memories they want to forget, Citation finds a way to reconcile with that through its hues, cinematography, and location with Jonathan Kovel’s impressive camera work.

Generally, the entirety of the cast delivered enthralling performances. The debut performance from Ibukun Awosika was quite a revelation, she delivered her role with poise and grace (no wonder she plays as herself), Jimmy jean Louis’ performance was flawless and unmatched, while Temi Otedola’s performance may (or may not) be your cup of tea, she delivered a satisfactory performance paving her way into the industry.     

The dialogue featured several languages: English, French, Yoruba, Portuguese and more which added a lot of flair and beauty to the film. The French dialogue was thrilling and simply magnifique!

The only real bummer that Citation serves is the lack of emotional depth of its main character. Even though Moremi’s countenance all through the film was mostly melancholic and weary, it was not convincing enough. The emotional core of such subject matter (like most of the films in this genre)would have elevated the film. Also, the film lasted for about two hours and 30minutes, which made it a little bit overstretched with scenes like Seun Kuti’s concert.

All in its entirety, Citation is a nifty and visceral film. The core of its beauty lies in its impactful and impressive cinematography, it further reiterates that Kunle Afolayan and Tunde Babalola are one creative duo at the helm of cinematic magic.

Tolulope Ebiseni

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Occasional writer, Cinephile and critic.

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3 years ago

Big headed mumu….u dey try

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