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Citation 2020 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Director: Kunle Afolayan
Writer: Tunde Babalola
Stars: Jimmy Jean-Louis, Temi Otedola, Adjetey Anang
The Gist: A young woman argues with her professor over the phone. He’s giving her an F, preventing her from graduating. But the grade isn’t final. She agrees to meet him in a motel room to “discuss” the grade. When they convene for their soiree, three of the woman’s male friends burst into the room and snatch the old man, dragging him into the street into his underwear while she films the incident. The prof tries to get away, runs into traffic and is killed by a car. She and her friends are kicked out of the university, their academic records permanently expunged.
Subtitle: 2 YEARS LATER. Moremi (Temi Otedola) walks guardedly to class. Other students side-eye her; her face is on a pamphlet advertising a movement to end sexual harassment on campus. She’s levied an assault accusation against Prof. N’Dyare (Jimmy Jean-Louis), and it’s public knowledge. The narrative jumps back to her first day in grad school; she’s the youngest among the student crop, and possibly the smartest. His story is similar — N’Dyare also was a gifted academic ingenue, and racked up accolades at universities around the world. He’s also a bit of a heartthrob with a winning smile and demeanor.
Moremi’s extracurricular relationship with the superstar instructor begins innocently enough: He struggles to learn to drive a stick shift, and she helps. The movie jumps back to the present day, where she and N’Dyare sit opposite a university panel, giving their deposition on what happened. There was a couple more driving lessons, a field trip to Senegal, an Easter party at N’Dyare’s home. Moremi’s romantic relationship with Koyejo (Gabriel Afolayan), a med student and martial artist, shifts from sweet to rocky as she gets familiar with her prof, who butts in to give unsolicited commentary on her sex life. Yes, it gets worse for Moremi, and as she tells her story and N’Dyare throws around his status and credentials and tries to lie his way out of it, she begins to wonder if school officials believe anything she says.
Our Take: Cut and dried: Citation isn’t very convincing. It’s a 151-minute movie that could have been a brisk 100 minutes if it weren’t padded with awkwardly staged drama and needlessly elongated sequences. Case in point, a moment where Koyejo gives Moremi a flirtatious self-defense lesson leads to a pointless, protracted display of unconvincing karate during his competition, which leads to a pivotal scene where the self-defense lesson comes in handy. A sequence set at a concert for Moremi’s birthday lingers needlessly. Dialogue exchanges between Moremi and N’Dyare are drawn-out far past the breaking point of our interest. The actors appear to have learned the mostly English-language script phonetically.
So it’s amateurish, but well-meaning, for what it’s worth. Nigerian cinema likely needs a story about feminine empowerment and the proliferation of sexual assault on university campuses; heck, any nation anywhere could use a cogent narrative illuminating the topic, even if it’s the 50th one this year. It’s vital subject matter. But the mechanisms of this screenplay are so obvious, and the film so tediously paced, it meets the bare minimum requirement of base melodrama, and oversimplifies the topic. It aims to be a crowd-pleaser, and it may somewhat succeed. But as an enlightening examination of campus sexual politics, it lacks conviction.
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