Interests and Power Imbalance: A Review of “Citation” The Movie – Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi
I would have loved to start by citing my bonafides in as it relates to writing about Citation, but I refuse to set myself up like Prof. N’Dyare (Jimmy Jean-Louis) for a trumping by a worthier person. If you don’t understand what I mean, it means you are sleeping on a good movie. Get thee to Netflix and find this scene (that can easily pass as the sweetest scene) I am referring to.
The director, Kunle Afolayan, clearly pampered the script. This is because, among other things, it offers different points to start a discourse, it is a good movie to that extent. But the words of Angela (Joke Silva), Moremi’s (Temi Otedola’s) legal counsel best wraps up the story:
“There is a thin line between wooing and oppression, especially when one party has power over the other.”
20, going on 21, brilliant postgraduate student, Moremi, gets personal with her course supervisor, Prof. N’Dyare, whilst trying to teach him how to drive a manual gear shift car. But she isn’t quick to see that beyond the academic and career interest that make her fond of the professor, he maps out a sexual goal. After a night of an attempted rape in his house, it is her words against his when he tries to fail her for denying him sex.
The plot, well grounded in unpretentious academic idiosyncrasies, succeeds in telling the importance of speaking up against abuse. But with a caveat to do so properly, as seen in the initial case of a student who mishandled a sex-for-grade situation. The film also beats down the narrative that only academically poor students fall prey to sex-for-grades oppressors.
By presenting us with the truth early in the film, we share in Moremi’s frustration through Prof. N’Dyare’s lies. And this, I think, will produce the effect of supporting victims instead of apportioning blames, and instill a decisiveness to fight against abusers of power.
Inspite of a good plot sustained by flashbacks, the pace is slow and unnecessarily elongated, stretching beyond two hours. One scene that stands out as a waste of time is the Seun Kuti concert.
The casting is meticulous. Kunle Afolayan did well to give us memorable characters. From the goofy twins (Sam and Cas Okan), the religious student who will not give up that ‘Jesus will intervene’, a beret-wearing and entitled student body representative (Bukunmi Oluwasina), a sassy and jealous Gloria (Ini Edo), down to the calm and graceful legal counsel (Joke Silva). Temi Otedola plays the lead satisfactorily, and aside her language fluidity, does nothing more to hit the sweet spot as a first time appearance.
Beyond any shortcoming, Citation is a great work of art that must be praised for its cultural mix. As a story of abuse, love, betrayal and oppression, presented in fine cinematographic quality, Citation speaks against a major ill in the education system and this is enough reason to label it ‘a must-watch’.
Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi is a Nigerian writer currently studying for a B.A. in History and International Studies.