Michael Chiedoziem Chukwudera
Nollywood’s latest export to Netflix, ‘Citation’, starring Temi Otedola and Jimmy Jean Louis, is a timely movie geared towards activism against one of the vices suffered by students in Nigerian universities. Directed by Kunle Afolayan, ‘Citation’ is a movie about the sex for grades issue which has often left many young female Nigerian students frustrated about their academic pursuits while others settle for less than they deserve.
Set in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, arguably Nigeria’s most charming Campus, some of the plots also take place in Dakar, Senegal, and in Cape Verde. It features a couple of Nollywood’s giants and old-timers like Joke Silva, Ini Edo, as well as, newcomer, Temi Otedola.
The story which ‘Citation’ strives to tell is not a new story. It’s a very old one which has been portrayed in Nollywood, and written about in novels—over and over again. The uniqueness of ‘Citation’, if there is any, is in its great cinematography, the unfolding of the plot which does not exactly follow a chronological pattern, but does so in a manner of shifting between the present and the past, and balancing the juice of the story in-between those timelines.
The story begins with an unnecessary scene of a university lecturer that is set up by students for his antics to offer sex for grades, after which a fatal accident occurs. Then, the story advances with Temi Otedola’s troubling moments, a situation where she is the cynosure of all eyes on campus and estranged from a few of her friends, whose relationship with her, eventual flashbacks unveil.
The movie succeeds very well in its portrayal of the academic world. The classes on international relations, as relayed by the teachers were well researched. The topics discussed were very relevant to the times. In some quarters, it has been said that the movie was a bit prophetic, because it might have been shot in late 2019, yet it managed to capture the African discourses in politics in the year 2020.
The interpretation of roles in the movie was not all-around great as in some recent Nollywood movies of the times, some of which did not even have as much an intriguing storyline as ‘Citation’. Temi Otedola’s performance was not bad for a debut, but not excellent either. She played a very broad role which required a large range of moods from sadness to elation, to happiness and depression. And she did quite well in the parts which required happiness and elation, but she seemed to struggle with the roles that required deep introspection. Her Yoruba accent also is one that requires improvement for future roles since mainstream Nollywood movies seem to be moving more and more to the path of indigenous language. Joke Silva, on the other hand, put a not-so-impressive performance for her role.
The unnecessary discussions between her and her advocate could have been replaced with discussions more relevant to the course of the movie. The best performers of the show would be the villains, Gloria (Ini Edo), and Professor N’Dyare (Jimmy Jean-Louis). The former, for her excellent interpretation of her role; manner of speech, body language, and portrayal of the character. The latter for almost the same things as the former and even coming off as a lovable character in the typical manner of a psychopath.
‘Citation’ could have been a better movie if it was shorter. This could have been achieved by trimming off a few unnecessary dialogues, paying less attention to the scenery, and action. The movie seemed a bit too relaxed for a piece of art trying to portray a societal ill like sex for grades which have been a cause for headache. The storyline though it ends happily is in no way, a triumph for the Nigerian or African students as the case may be. If it takes having enough funds to travel from Nigeria to Senegal to seek out a witness from an international lecturer’s past, then it is safe to say that it is still a grim prospect for students in the poverty capital of the world. The movie therefore mainly speaks out but offers no new reachable insights on how young women who might find themselves in this web should untangle it.
The movie, ‘Citation’ is a very timely one. And its current popularity on Netflix is not as much about its quality as its resonance with the Nigerian audience. The movie is not excellent in its execution, breaks no real, new grounds, and gives us a storyline bordering on the margins of reality and unreality. But it strives to introduce an element of intellect and makes good use of its visual and cinematography. And though it is a good one, Nollywood has seen better movies and better acting, even in movies with less intriguing prospects.
Categories: Culture and Lifestyle