Movie title: Citation
Running time: 115 mins
Director: Kunle Afolayan
Starring: Temi Otedola, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Ini Edo, Gabriel Afolayan and Seun Kuti (cameo appearance).
Year of Release: 2020
The climb to movie stardom is usually arduous. Oftentimes, artistes bleed blood, sweat and tears on their journey to becoming celebrities. Suffering is not usually a virtue. A few exceptional artistes by virtue of their talents have had to dodge the thorny path to fame.
The performance of Temi, one of the daughters of billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, in Kunle Afolayan’s latest movie, ‘Citation,’ puts her in the league of the few artistes who shoot straight to stardom from the starting line.
‘Citation’ was the debut movie appearance of the fashion and lifestyle blogger and surprisingly she effortlessly melts into her role.
The way she mastered her line and body language, it was almost impossible to tell she is a newbie – clearly, she took time off the screen to perfect her craft before announcing her entry.
Maybe her performance should not have surprised many like it did, if one considers that her other sisters – DJ Cuppy and Tolani – are talented creatives themselves.
Also deserving of a huge thumb-up is Mr Afolayan, whose gamble to cast a rookie in a leading role of such a huge project has, without a doubt, paid off exceptionally.
‘Citation’ is now the number six movie in the world on NETFLIX.
Also cast in a leading role is Haitian-American actor, Jimmy Jean-Louis, who previously starred in Afolayan’s ‘The Ceo’. The movie also boasts a supporting-cast talent such as Bukunmi Oluwashina, Adjetey Anang,Joke Silva, Sadiq Daba and many others.
The movie addresses the issue of sex-for-grades which is prevalent in Nigerian higher institutions and these days, in secondary schools too.
‘Citation is a decent movie about an intelligent young Master’s student, Moremi, played for Temi Otedola, who speaks out after a university don, Lucien N’Dyare (Jimmy Jean-Louis), attempts to rape her and her many attempts to break free from the web of lies spun by the main character, Jimmy Jean-Louis.
The story begins with a phone conversation scene between an undergraduate and her lecturer, a university don, who is offering her good grades in exchange for sex. Familiar story right?
She sets a trap for him and he falls headlong. The result is a public disgrace, jungle justice, and ultimately, he (the professor) being hit by an oncoming car while trying to escape an angry mob.
After the prologue (above) which is set in the picturesque Obafemi Awolowo University campus, the story picks up in the present day with Moremi (Temi Otedola) a naive but brilliant Master’s student in the same university.
Temi, plays Moremi, a naive student whose initial feelings for her lecturer are not quite established at first, not until the film progresses. From innocently teaching her sly lecturer how to drive a manual car (unbeknownst to her, he’s a pro at it) to going on long ‘innocent’ walks with him, sparks flew in no time.
Critics may argue that those scenes are not really necessary but they help give some context as to what is to come in the movie.
So easily, it is hard to think of Prof N’Dyare as a bad guy at first because his real colour was kept under wraps for a long time. Incensed at being ill-treated by the trendy university don, Moremi drags him before the University Senate. The ensuing intrigues define Moremi’s words against that of the respected academic, in a male-dominated terrain.
In any event, Moremi suffers the anxiety of not being believed by the panel when Prof. N’Dyare, who is obviously more street smart, manages to convince the panel, at first, that he was the victim of sexual harassment.
The movie, which was shot in Nigeria, Senegal, and Cape Verde, offers many surprises. Cameo appearances by Seun Kuti, son of late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti; the Chairman of First Bank, Ibukun Awosika; the beautiful sights and sounds of Cape Verde, Senegal and the Obafemi Awolowo University campus.
Also, two tracks by the Grammy award-winning, Senegalese singer, Youssou N’dour, ‘My Child’ and ‘Takuta’ are a part of the movie’s soundtrack.
Both songs were written and co-composed by the late Nigerian iconic master, Babatunde Olatunji and Ayo Manuel Ajisebutu, owner of MansMark records.
Written by the Afolayan’s long-standing screenwriter, Tunde Babalola, the casting was great.
Nearly every scene has a punch of some kind and no, none of the scenes dragged on for so long.
The attempted rape scene was no doubt the climax of the film. It made us see the two lead actors in a different light, a meek Moremi who suddenly became very strong and a harmless professor who now cuts the picture of a psychopath.
While most of the film is devoid of action, and is more about the love triangle between Moremi, her love interest played by Gabriel Afolayan, and the professor , there is enough drama to keep a viewer glued. Gabriel brought his A-game portraying a doctor and Karate champ who only has eyes for Moremi.
Ini Edo’s role in the movie was not too striking. Anyone conversant with her movies can tell it was not challenging and is almost not memorable. It is almost like we could have done without her in the movie.
Afolayan employed two interesting film techniques in this movie; flashbacks to give a bit of backstory and flashforward to reveal events that will occur as the film progresses. The latter is a bit technical and rarely employed in typical Nollywood films because it does require a bit of concentration to get a grasp of the movie’s plot.
The film was also shot with the new Canon EOS C500 MarK II camera. Afolayan told PREMIUM TIMES that it marked the first time it was used in Africa. The result is crisp clear pictures that remind you of Hollywood big-budget films.
The brilliant employ of French and English langauge in the film gives it a pan-West African and Francophone appeal. Not forgetting the brief yet memorable Afrobeat performace by Seun Kuti, which pretty much is the icing on the cake.
‘Citation’ is a solid film, I dare say, one of the best Nigerian films shot this year. At this point, I will need to warn you. If you are not into social impact films, this movie may not appeal to you right away. But, if, like me, you yearn for something more, something different in a Nigerian film, then, you need to watch ‘Citation’.
Back in January, Afolayan told this newspaper that the film will create awareness of the different forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private sphere. He noted that it would also educate society on women’s rights and the ways to enforce these rights for the achievement of equality and tranquility. So, has he achieved that in the movie? While it may be too early to tell, the film has already sparked discussions around sex-for-grades in Nigerian universities on social media.
In a nutshell, ‘Citation’ is undiluted drama, brilliant dialogues, and plot condensed into 151 minutes of nothing short of pure entertainment. No fluffs.
Verdict – 8/10
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