Citation

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Citation Movie Poster Image
Slow-moving Nigerian drama about sexual harassment, assault.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 151 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive role models.

Positive Messages

Don't give up. Keep fighting the good fight because you can make a difference. It's important to speak up and speak out about sexual harassment and rape, not only to change society's behavior, but also to stop perpetrators from hurting others and to help victims know that they're not alone. Stresses the value of education, especially post-graduate academic achievement, and the importance of rigorous academic standards. Shows that relationships where one person has power over another can have terrible consequences.

Positive Role Models

Moremi is a great role model for courage, integrity, and perseverance. Even when she's shunned for pursuing her case against a prestigious professor, she bravely continues her studies and doesn't back down. She pursues evidence to support her case, and holds her ground when she knows she's right. Love interest Koyejo is supportive and learns that his jealousy shouldn't dictate Moremi's behavior. The majority African cast in a university setting models equality between the sexes, including a balanced student body and many women in positions of power and prestige.

Violence

A man is violently grabbed and dragged out into the street with lots of shouting. Small amounts of blood are seen on his legs and shirt, then several men punch, kick, and beat him with their belts. A body being hit by a car is implied with sound effects. A man chokes a woman lying on a sofa, rips off her underwear, and slaps her in the face, then unzips his pants when she agrees to be quiet. She escapes by kneeing him in the groin. Two different professors extort sexual acts from students in exchange for good grades and recommendations. A man lies on a couch in his underwear and a woman is seen from behind taking her shirt off; only her bare back is seen. A woman hurls herself off a cliff. Medical students begin slicing open a cadaver.

Sex

Some flirting, hugging, holding hands, and a brief kiss.

Language

"F--k-up," "bulls--t," and "Jesus" as an exclamation.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The adult cast of post-graduate students and professors drink wine and hard alcohol socially, but not often. Bottles of alcohol are seen at a concert venue. A van door opens and copious amounts of smoke pour out.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Citation is a drama based on real events in Nigeria about a college student who charges her professor with attempted rape. Overall violence is rare, but the incident is shown with choking, a slap, unzipping pants, and a knee to the groin. Another incident shows a man being dragged into the street and beaten with belts after trying to extort sexual acts from a student in exchange for grades. A third sexual assault victim is seen hurling herself off a cliff. Several instances of unwanted sexual advances are shown. Adults drink at social occasions. Strong language includes "f--k-up" and "bulls--t." Sexual content includes some flirting, holding hands, and a brief kiss. At a concert a van door is opened and lots of smoke comes pouring out. The majority African cast in a university setting models equality between the sexes, including a balanced student body and many women in positions of power and prestige.

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What's the story?

Based on real events, CITATION tells the story of Moremi (Temi Otedola), a bright student pursuing her master's degree at a prestigious university in Nigeria. This semester, Moremi's class will have charismatic new professor Lucien N'Dyare (Jimmy Jean-Louis) as lecturer and thesis advisor. Moremi quickly catches N'Dyare's attention, and his eye as well. He makes several unwanted sexual advances toward Moremi, who rejects him but doesn't tell anyone about the incidents. Then one night N'Dyare tries to rape Moremi. Moremi manages to run away, and brings charges against N'Dyare to the university's disciplinary body. Doing so costs her dearly. She's shunned by friends, and she and her boyfriend break up over it. The university hearing may come down to N'Dyare's word (who tells very different versions of events) against Moremi's. Unless she can find some proof that she's telling the truth...

Is it any good?

This earnest movie thoughtfully and quietly tells a story based on real events and raises lots of issues about sexual harassment and assault that are important to understand and talk about. Citation is told in a very serious and even-handed way, but that unfortunately weakens the emotional impact of the characters and the story. The pace is very slow and serious, so at about 2.5 hours long viewers may feel restless at times. Several extended scenes, like the concert and the martial arts black belt match and ceremony, do little to add to the story.

There are lots of issues it's important for teens and young adults to think about, like relationships where one person has a lot more power than the other, blaming the victim, institutional bias, and more. But the slow pace, serious tone, and length may limit teen appeal. Mature themes surrounding sexual harassment and attempted rape make it best for teens and up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Citation. Is seeing it in movies different from video games, or reading about it? Why? 

  • What made it difficult for Moremi to come forward and to see the hearing through to the end? Why is it important to speak up and speak out about sexual harassment and assault? What would you have done if you were Moremi?

  • Did the university handle Moremi's case appropriately? Has anything like this happened at your school? How was it handled?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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Themes & Topics

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