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  • Ruth (Laura Dern) is a young homeless glue-addicted street junkie, who is arrested again completely doped. The justice realizes that she is pregnant for the fifth time, and the judge offers her the option of an abortion. Ruth is released under the custody of a family and sooner she is involved in a pro-choice vs. pro-life (called 'The Babysavers') dispute. This is the first time I have seen this movie and it is a very acid social criticism of the American society hypocrisy regarding the abortion theme. The story does not spare any side, showing hypocrites persons on both sides. The pro-life are showed as religious fanatics and narrow-minded persons, the deranged family who lodges Ruth has a the father with sexual attraction in Laura and the mother a fanatic who does not see the behavior of her own daughter. The pro-choice group is showed as homosexual, but also faking a situation. In common, all of them are radicals hypocrites. And Ruth indeed is not caring whether she is going to have her fifth baby or not, abusing of drugs and alcohol and only interested in the money offered by both sides. And the rights of the citizen Ruth is the less important issue for both sides. Laura Dern has one of her best interpretations and in the very beginning of the movie, I did not recognize her. I believe she was not indicated for an Oscar due to the polemic theme of abortion. The performance of the cast and the direction are also excellent. My vote is seven, but maybe this movie deserves a better ranking after watching it for the second time.

    Title (Brazil): 'Ruth em Questão' (Ruth in Question')
  • It's truly gratifying to see that Alexander Payne has really made a name for himself in the art of film direction, having made nothing less than two fantastic social satires. "Election" garnered him considerable praise as will "About Schmidt," but in my mind, "Citizen Ruth" is the best. It's not as funny as Election in the sense that there aren't the moments that make your jaw drop in terms of the delightfully vicious nature of the satire, but the script is just as thoughtful as it is funny, and Payne did a remarkable job satirizing what, by most accounts, is an "un-satirizable" subject. Laura Dern really deserved some kind of award (you know the academy would never have the stones to recognize a film such as this...) as her performance is both touching and hysterical. Some said the film started off great and then didn't really go anywhere, but I disagree. The final shot says it all with respect to the direction of the story, and it really amazes me that this film could be made without really taking a side on anything. Ultimately, I was blindsided by the film's astute message, which was not even about abortion itself, but the selfish nature of the two sides arguing it. Payne will undoubtably move on to make compelling films in the future that take advantage of higher budgets, etc., but "Citizen Ruth" deserves a place amongst the best first features in any genre.
  • prospectpt22 January 2006
    An outstanding work – the consummate Indie.

    A great, little satire that manages to make you identify with a homeless, hopeless druggie.

    Laura Dern is perfect as the indigent & insatiable "Ruth". She brings an engaging hidden-beauty to the part, and with the help of Alexander Payne's brilliant direction, she nimbly walks the wire between comical hero and tragic pariah.

    This gem clearly demonstrates that, even though the production budget may be lower than a republican's principles - when great talent and artistic enthusiasm couple, a work of genius is likely to be born.

    Cheers, AB – a staff member of Prospect Point Productions, Inc.
  • Occasionally you will see a movie that may take you some time to decide whether you enjoyed it. By the second time you see it, you're better able to fully appreciate the movie without becoming wrapped up in confusing or disturbing plot elements. "Citizen Ruth" is one of the best examples of this phenomenon I have ever seen. If you've seen it before, give it another chance. If you have not, give yourself some time to reflect after watching it. You will not be disappointed.

    "Citizen Ruth" is the story of a woman, Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern could not have been a better choice for this role), who has spent her difficult life making a lot of bad choices. She is a quick-tempered, irresponsible but naive junkie, who you can't help but root for. When she finds herself pregnant yet again, with no intention of giving up the model airplane glue and spray paint she regularly huffs, the judge makes it clear that with all of her previous run-ins with the legal system, Ruth had better "take care of the problem" or face serious charges.

    When the local pro-life group, the Babysavers (Kurtwood Smith was another excellent choice to play the leader of this group) catches wind of the judge's comments, they set out to save Ruth and her unborn child. This, of course, turns out in a hilariously disastrous way, when pro-choice gets involved to even up the playing field. Ruth's naivete makes her easy for both sides to manipulate, and neither pro-life nor pro-choice winds up looking very good.

    The ending to this movie is not, in my opinion, as predictable as it seems, and it really gives you something to think about - what is "life" and how much (both in material and ethereal terms) is it worth, particularly when it's placed in the hands of somebody who is in such poor control of her or his own? Is it ethical to take advantage of somebody's lack of knowledge for your own gain, or is it even okay to try to change somebody's mind? Is Ruth Stoops a bad person, or just a misunderstood and desperate woman? And what about her final choice?

    This movie is worth a second look, and at a $3 rental fee, what do you have to lose?
  • The title character of "Citizen Ruth" (Dern), an indigent and pregnant fume-head with a potty mouth and bad attitude, finds herself the unwitting cause of a clash of pro-choice and pro-abortion activists in this bitingly satirical look at the abortion issue in America. Dern makes an excellent centerpiece for this award winning comedy which mocks both sides of the life/choice controversy with a vanguard of comic stereotypes. "CR" should be an enjoyable and fun watch for those mature enough for strong language and not so brittle as to personalize the issues involved.
  • Laura Dern gives what should have been an oscar-winning performance in this satire of the abortion controversy. However this movie is not for the main stream. She plays a homeless drug user and a user period. Not a nice person. She has four kids in three different places. The first scene depicts her trying to hit up her ex for money displaying only a token concern for her kids. But by the end of the movie you kinda like her (well, almost... you still would never let her come to your house). Anyway when she is picked up for the 16th time that year by the cops for sniffing household stuff (anything she can find: glue, paint, brake fluid...), the authorities find out that she is pregnant. The DA charges her with criminal endangerment of the fetus, but hints that if she has an abortion the charge will go away. While in the city jail she meets up with the Baby Savers and a tug-of-war ensues between them and the Right-To-Choose people. The portrayal of both sides is so devastatingly accurate that I doubt either side would know they're being lampooned. This movie rates with Cold Turkey and Drop Dead Gorgeous for its cynical, but hilarious portrait of American Life.
  • I thought "Citizen Ruth" was fine, biting satire and a movie that had to be made at some point in America's history. Like all good movies, it is not really about the subject at hand - in this case, the abortion issue - but about something deeper and more far reaching. "Citizen Ruth" is about people who get so devoted to a cause they think important to humanity that they forget to consider actual human beings.

    Of course, the unavoidable problem with a movie such as this is that almost all of the characters are unsympathetic. Regardless of what opinion one has on the abortion issue, both factions behave badly and they do it supposedly on behalf of the most irresponsible, irredeemable, unlikable (but still watchable) glue sniffer around, Ruth. The effect can be a little wearing, especially at the end.

    The movie alleviates this problem by including one wonderful character, Harlan, the cynical Gulf War vet. He unceremoniously plunks his prosthetic leg on the kitchen table. He eats shirtless standing over a sink. He sees Ruth as a person, albeit a diminished one, and is willing to give her what she really wants (money) in order to, as he says, level the playing field, even though he knows she will squander it in a matter of days and tells her so. While he is on the prochoice side, he sees the humor in the situation, as evidenced by his wonderful grin and does not seem to lose track of his own humanity. His dialogue is priceless. Where everybody else speaks in rhetoric he cuts to the chase. My favorite retort of his occurs when the sanctimonious Dale, a pro-lifer, spouts out some Biblical condemnation at him and he responds by giving the exact location in the Bible of the quote. Naturally the actor playing the part, M. C. Gainey, deserves much of the credit for creating this appealing character.

    The movie has many other merits but Harlan is my own personal favorite
  • Wichita_Film_Fan6 July 2006
    There is something about Citizen Ruth that keeps me coming back to it. I must have seen it 30 times and haven't tired of it yet. It is genuine and the people are so amazingly real. It's almost as if some of my neighbours seem just like the characters in the film. That says a lot in my opinion. The Mid-west is a land that holds a special place in the American psyche. I can literally count on my hands the number of films that truly capture its spirit. Citizen Ruth is one of those films. From scenes in the hardware store to large rear wheel drive Fords, everything fits perfectly. This film captures a place called Omaha which for better or worse Hollywood largely ignores. It also treats a controversial topic like abortion in a thoughtful manner. Excellent film. Highly recommended.

    10 out of 10 stars.
  • TheKingofHarts8416 January 2005
    In the wake of the huge success "Sideways" is garnering lately, everyone should look back at this incredible film from Alexander Payne, which shows off everything he and writing partner Jim Taylor are best at- the dark skewering of small-town America, rich with satire and heart. I had seen all of Payne's films except this one, and although I really loved all of them, this may be his most fully realized. This is probably because his targets are hit exactly dead-on, and the absurdity of the situations are in fact, achingly real. Laura Dern gives a wonderful and unflinching portrayal of Ruth, and the rest of the cast, especially Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, and in a small role, Burt Reynolds, are exceptional as the targets of Payne's satire. Payne fills his films with little details of small-town life, and here they add so much to the point of the story. Take for example the grace that Kurtwood Smith's character gives, which is barely heard because of the roaring plane overhead. It is these details that are the crux of a story like this. So as "Sideways" continues to claim many awards (and rightfully so), I urge you to check out this earlier film from Payne, and experience a brilliant little film, and one of the gutsiest movies you may ever see.
  • In what has got to be one of Laura Dern's most interesting roles, she plays indigent drug addict Ruth Stoops, ordered to have an abortion at the risk of damaging her unborn fetus. That's when she gets taken in by a fundamentalist Christian, right-to-life family who starts using her as a rallying call. But abortion rights activists also see Ruth as a rallying call.

    Like "Thank You for Smoking", "Citizen Ruth" shows the hypocrisy of both sides in a controversial topic, as they both want to use an individual for their own ends. This movie sort of predicted what would happen to Terri Schiavo almost ten years in advance. Moreover, director Alexander Payne shows the twisted sensibility that he would later bring to "Election", "About Schmidt" and "Sideways". You gotta agree with what Ruth does at the end. Definitely one that I recommend.

    Also starring Kurtwood Smith, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, Kelly Preston, Kenneth Mars and Tippi Hedren.
  • Unlike every other young American filmmaker, buzzing like moths around the asthmatic short guy from Little Italy, Alexander Payne has a pleasingly atypical role model: Luis Bunuel. His brilliant ELECTION sets down a number of Bunuel tropes in the chain restaurants and badly lit high schools of Omaha, Nebraska, and his first feature, CITIZEN RUTH, is even closer to the wall-eyed master's bone.

    The heroine, played by Laura Dern, is named Ruth Stoops, and that's an understatement. Ruth begins the picture as a dumpster-diving skank whose preoccupations are birthing bastards and huffing glue. Through a BEING THERE-ish chain of circumstances, Ruth finds herself in the hands of a family of Baby Savers (Payne's version of Operation Rescue), and then a squadron of mostly lesbian, bourgeois, goddess-worshiping, Frida-Kahlo-T-shirt-wearing pro-choice activists. Though the movie cannily found a home with the Sundance crowd as a "satire" of both sides of the "abortion debate," the topicality is strictly surface. CITIZEN RUTH is a straight-up-Bunuelian demonstration of the hundred facets of human mendacity and venality, cloaking their shivering skins in the warm fabric of Morals. It's a cheerfully made thesis movie about the universality of hypocrisy.

    Payne has a curious, sure, light, on-the-money touch. Every detail you notice--from a Baby Saver mom's Tupperware samovar of cherry Kool-Ade, to Kurtwood Smith's Sav-On uniform (with a button that sadly screams "Ask Me!")--is ever so slightly exaggerated and perfectly true. Payne's rendering of his home town Omaha, its wan, angry Christians, and the kinda-gay, kinda-liberal-artsy interlopers, makes the Coen Brothers look both pizzazzier and much nastier. The single-mindedness of the movie is oddly pleasing when it's mated with such a certain, gingerly approach. (Payne's tastes run gratifyingly wide: his jokes, and his music, seem derived from the works of James L. Brooks.) There's a two-dimensionality about CITIZEN RUTH that makes it less deeply satisfying than ELECTION, but this is one smart filmmaker. As the millennium rolls in, the likes of Wes Anderson and Kevin Smith will be gagging on his dust.
  • Citizen Ruth is a poignant, thought-provoking and at times harrowing drama which is well-written and enjoyable to watch. Which is why I was confused when it was marketed on the VHS and DVD releases as a comedy, with comments branding it "hilarious". There were humorous moments within the film thanks to the witty scriptwriting, but this serves as added depth to the characters of a film which is otherwise much more important than a simple story, but instead highlights the socio-economic problems facing us in the modern world, and for the most part does so with grim reality.

    Rent this out on DVD expecting laughs or a straightforward story and you're likely to be disappointed - instead watch the film for what it is - a superbly acted drama provoking discussions on important issues.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a huge fan of Alexander Payne's later films, I decided that it was about time I saw "Citizen Ruth." Though easily the weakest of Payne's films, I found the social commentary in "Citizen Ruth" more nuanced and provocative than his more popular works.

    The film centers around Ruth, a down-and-out woman arrested for huffing toxic chemicals. It is discovered during her arrest that she is pregnant, and since she is a repeat offender with several neglected children, the judge in her case encourages her behind closed doors to have an abortion "for everyone's sake." The judge's comments, as well as his charging her with endangering the life of her fetus, set into motion a battle between pro-life and pro-choice organizations. A well-meaning Christian family takes her in initially, exposing her to pro-life propaganda films and taking her to protests outside a clinic. After a pro-choice group wins Ruth over and takes her in, the pro-life group ups the ante, trying to entice Ruth to have her baby by offering her $15,000. A member of the pro-choice group matches the sum, but soon after, Ruth has a miscarriage, making the whole spectacle (which is blown up by the media and each warring interest group) completely undercut. Neither group is aware of the miscarriage when Ruth goes to the abortion clinic, takes the $15,000 offered to her, and escapes from the scene, leaving protesters from each side warring behind her.

    There are many elements of the film that could be improved. I thought the dialog was clumsy at times, which led to some mediocre acting. Laura Dern is fantastic, though, as the title character, making the character believable.

    What impresses me most about the film, though, is it's message about abortion politics. Essentially, Payne's commentary suggests that interest groups on both sides don't really identify with the people they claim to by fighting for; Ruth's interests as a person and her "choice" are undercut by rhetoric and high-minded principles that don't take her situation into account. Payne cleverly implicates BOTH the pro-life and pro-choice factions in this scheme of robbing Ruth from exerting her will. In the end, Ruth takes control of her own destiny, yielding to neither side.

    The message of "Citizen Ruth" is more relevant now than ever as pro-choicers face the challenge of a majority conservative supreme court. How will they appeal to the Ruths out there? And for pro-lifers, how would they deal with the consequences of an overturning of Roe v. Wade? Payne's film pointedly asks these questions, and only time will tell how each side will answer.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I loved this movie, a sly satire about a beautiful but dim-witted drifter who gets pregnant and finds herself accidentally scooped up as symbol by both sides in the abortion controversy. Laura Dern makes Ruth an irresistible anti-heroine, not only sexy and fun but poignant and lonely and even lovable by the very end.

    At first, with Ruth in rags and in tears, the movie is not much fun. It's a bit like TRAINSPOTTING, about a drug addict living on the street. But Laura Dern's Ruth is not a smug smart-aleck like Renton. She doesn't keep telling us she's cool or hip or better than us. She just lives her life, and we see how helpless and in need of rescue she really is. Where the film picks up steam is where we see how corrupt and hypocritical her "rescuers" really are.

    The script really points out that all political activists are users at heart. Just like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, where the teenage hoodlum Alex is first brainwashed by the state and then "rescued" by radicals who snuff him out at the first opportunity, so here Ruth is pushed back and forth by Christians and feminists who show equal disregard for her thoughts and feelings. The fact that she herself is lazy, weak-willed, incurably dishonest, and deeply selfish, only adds to the fun. Ruth's need for pleasure and escape makes her a natural to become a drug addict, which of course she is. But it's also noticeable that she plunges headlong into each passing pleasure that comes her way. Watching her snore in blissful contentment in her first real bed in months, or howl with pleasure during a sexy feminist foot massage, you can't help but enjoy her zest for life. Ruth may be weak-willed and timid, but at least she has her human pleasures. The people around her are fanatical robots.

    At the same time, Ruth's story goes beyond A CLOCKWORK ORANGE into a much more American story of a loner who must choose sides in what really amounts to a civil war. The film brilliantly captures how abortion tears the town in half, just like slavery in the pre Civil War years. Ruth is caught in the middle, just like Tobey Maguire's Jake Roedel in Ang Lee's RIDE WITH THE DEVIL. The difference is that Ruth finds a way to fight on her own terms. By the end she's no longer a puppet, and you feel oddly impressed by her final get away and almost slapstick escape.

    (SPOILER ALERT) This is one of the few movies I have ever seen where the "take the money and run" ending really feels like a triumph. Note that this is EXACTLY what happens in TRAINSPOTTING. While the straight people make fools of themselves, a junkie walks away with a bundle of cash. But here it feels totally liberating, and fun. With Renton it was spoiled with his tiresome monologue, bragging about how he's "just like us." No, Ruth is just like us. She's not always able to say what she feels, but she has human needs and she learns from her mistakes.

    CITIZEN RUTH is a great movie, and a real triumph for Laura Dern.
  • Laura Dern is one of my favorite actresses just for her work in Inland Empire and her stunning work in Enlightened. This film usually gets the least mentions within Payne's filmography and is probably considered his weakest, and so I was surprised and enjoyed it a hell of a lot, especially coming off of a big disappointment. Like Election, it's definitely more in the comedy-territory and while, again, it may not amount to all that much, it's still a hell of an enjoyable ride. And, of course, Laura Dern is great, she's proved she can play this sort of ditzy, unaware character and she nails it. This is definitely recommended and rather underrated
  • Before writer/director Alexander Payne was making deep, intimate pictures centered around eccentric humans playing a little game called "Life," he was concocting explosive satires, bursting at the seams with originality and charm. His directorial debut, Citizen Ruth, is a little stroll through the eclectic-side of his days.

    Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern) is a rather despicable woman. She has had multiple kids and has been addicted to inhaling substances from glue to patio sealant for years now. When she discovers she is pregnant again, she tosses around the idea of having an abortion, so as not to give birth to another unfortunate, helpless soul. Having no family and no one to turn to for advice, she finds herself intrusively manipulated by pro-life and pro-choice groups from all walks of life, and his taken in by a well-meaning couple, played by Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place. They will provide her with everything she could need, including protection from the media, so long as she doesn't give into the abortion.

    The remainder of the film centers around the asinine attention the media pays to Ruth and her "family," and how she may be forcefully committed to one side because of their obnoxious manipulation.

    What is truly amazing, however, is how Citizen Ruth manages to perfectly keep a centrist viewpoint, showing both sides at their utmost ridiculous. Never does the film show a direct bias. From watching this, we can sort of believe that Payne's view on the entire abortion issue is simplified to something along the lines of, "both sides are equally right and equally bizarre."

    Dern here is spectacularly, embodying a character void of any likability traits and sophistication as a whole. She is an unkempt, sorry mess of a woman and Payne portrays her exactly as that. While it may not be the most complete film out there, or even one of the funniest satires (especially when you put to along side Election, Payne's sophomore effort), it still is a reasonable compliment to say that Citizen Ruth does a splendid job of keeping a film about a controversial issue neutral and viable throughout its runtime.

    Starring: Laura Dern, Kurtwood Smith, and Mary Kay Place. Directed by: Alexander Payne.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The more I view Payne's pictures, the more I see them as a kind of Requiem, or Elegy, for humanity in the setting of Nebraska and the young and old who populate Omaha.

    Payne's first 3 films are perhaps valentines to his birthplace. I went back to review Citizen Ruth and About Schmitt, and found myself amazed in the subtle execution of loss and despair in the stories and characters. Alexander Payne has a good thing going in his work.

    In Citizen Ruth, Election and About Schmidt we perhaps have a trilogy that arcs through the life cycle of a human being..

    Citizen Ruth...conception, birth and childhood.

    Ruth seems to embody all three...physically and emotionally (pregnant, but child-like in mind and action). The subtle sub-plots involving the child of "Life Savers" Norm and Gail Stoney (played by Sebastian Anzaldo III) is possibly the saddest depiction of a loss of innocence I have ever seen in a film, worthy of Stanley Kubrick (who filmed a similar theme in the first half of Full Metal Jacket). When Ruth hits the child, suddenly the wind is also knocked out of the film. The illusion of "choice" in the conception and birth process of mortal existence is all over this film.

    Election...youth and the middle aged...

    The youth struggle to grow up and the middle aged reach for a happiness lost in youth. I think Reese Witherspoon's character, Tracy Flick, goes through a steep learning curve, a process of change and understanding that benefits her and helps her come to terms with her loneliness, however damaged she may still be. She actually comes out better than the other characters IMO. Mr. McCallister, in contrast, spirals out of control...his inner creepy crawlies, hidden in the dark corners of a classroom for years, are suddenly brought out by the searing light of Tracy Flick.

    About Schmidt...old age and death.

    Regrets and redemption by proxy (the best gifts can be given and received in ways that we can never imagine...without us even knowing about it). Death is seen quite early in the film...and the bell tolls for Warren's life(as the clock strikes 5pm to announce Warren's retirement). While Warren is going through crisis and he desperately tries to "make a difference" by saving his daughter from marrying a loser, a 6 year old child in Africa is deeply affected by Warren's $22 a month donation. Warren is redeemed? I think Warren is redeemed after his Wedding reception speech earlier...it is also his burial...his last will and testament. The 6 year child's drawing is a sign that the "circle of life" will begin again...brand spanking' new.

    These films are so amazing I feel as if I'm participating in each. Great cinema.
  • My change. I still look for a court objection when she went to Council Bluffs, Iowa. So where was the Budget Host, the abortion clinic (up a dirt road) and where was Diane's house, shown up a dirt road and a dying cornfield? Was that in Iowa, if so, it was a violation of her parole in NE.. Earlier I wondered what Ruth would do with the money after she made her getaway. Just recently another thought comes up!!! YOU can tell people what to do, but all this can change when it hits YOUR home. Norm Stoney was a powerhouse against abortion,but remember his daughter Cheryl, slipped out at night for drug parties and even once slipped a boyfriend out in the early morning while Norm and his friends were singing "Jesus loves the Little Children". Now, suppose Cheryl turned up pregnant, without a clue as who the father was!! Would Norman still be against abortion??? or would he WANT his daughter to get an abortion? Don't get me wrong, Mr. Payne has created something big here and I have taken this very deeply. 9/08... Payne's sense of photographic scenes give us something special, especially the times Ruth's eyes look directly into the camera..you can almost see the brain wheels planning something! This is one of the best movies I've seen since "High Noon"!! It make you say "What would I do, what would you do?? I still want Citize Ruth #2... don't you?? Finish it, Payne!! email: milwhitt702@aol.com. Git 'er done, AP!!!!
  • I was pleasantly surprised by this film. What I thought was going to be a Laura Dern chick flick turned into a really exciting, character driven political commentary in the league of BOYS DON'T CRY. However, where BOYS is extremely dramatic and intense, RUTH is comic and satirical. No matter which side of the abortion debate you find yourself on, you'll recognize this rogues gallery of overly self-righteous fools and freaks that crowd our existence as well as Ruth's. Where another reviewer here finds the story predictable, I don't see how anyone could guess the end of this feature. Not that it's some clever, ingenious twist like the end of the SIXTH SENSE. It's merely not the way most movies end, and although slightly a fluffy ending, it's definitely unpredictable. If you enjoyed BOYS, see RUTH as part of a weekend double feature.
  • This movie seemed so realistic, it was almost like being involved in it. After watching it over 20 times I still see small real things, like when the Judge asked to see Ruth in his office, he pushed to door shut, and immediately, for his own protection, opened it a crack before telling her "If you want to see a doctor while in jail...you can go". He didn't want that to get out but it did. I can sympathize with the Judge, he wanted to save the state a million dollars over the next 18 years. Mr. Payne really had it together and didn't miss a beat. He was slick too, for at the end he made Ruth the "bad guy" and was able to keep the pro-choice and baby savers evenly balanced, not giving way to either. Norm worked in a hardware store, and like Harlan, was very realistic. Every person seemed so real...and I think some of the cops WERE real. I first saw this movie on TV by accident, nothing else on. The second time I taped it. This movie made me go and rent or buy every Laura Dern movie I could find. This is my favorite movie.
  • "Citizen Ruth" satirizes the opposing sides in the abortion debate, as both focus on the case of a homeless, drug-addicted pregnant woman who has been charged with abusing her fetus by her constant inhaling of anything in an aerosol can. Ruth is played with psychotic charm by Laura Dern, who has the courage not to try softening an unsympathetic character, and it is her performance that carries the film, long after the story has revealed itself. She plays Ruth as thoroughly selfish, thoroughly manipulative, and completely unredeemable (which is fitting, as what might define redemption is part of the debate), and it's fun to watch her pull it off. Though much of the time we can see where the movie is going, Ruth keeps "Ruth" interesting to the end.
  • This is a wonderful film with Laura Dern providing a fearless performance as an irredeemable whiffer. The movie does paint a few people with broad strokes, but the strokes are deft and very funny.

    No one comes across very well in this movie, and there is something to offend everyone here.

    What a wonderful way to skewer modern society!
  • Sometimes reality is better than the best movie and certainly when that reality is situated in the USA and talks about some moral subjects. Think of the legalization of the gay marriage, euthanasia, abortion,... All that has already been accepted in that little, unknown and unloved country that we call Belgium, but thanks to all those conservative religious fanatics in America that are against everything that might make life a bit fun or bearable, we always get some good laughs over here. In case you didn't know it yet: most of us don't worship the devil, but are good catholics ... most of us, hahaha.

    Why this little text you ask yourself? Well, because this movie is about one of those subjects. It talks about a young woman called Ruth Stoops, a pregnant drug using and glue/paint sniffing junk who has already had her other children taken away from her. When she's convicted by a judge, she gets the advice to have the unborn child removed, because it won't have any future with its mother. In return she won't get convicted for child abuse. But while in jail she meets people who are member of the pro-life group the Babysavers. These people convince her (brainwash her is a better word for it, if you see the tactics that they use) not to give up the baby. And before Ruth really understands what is happening to her, she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a "war" between the Babysavers and a group that supports abortion...

    Most actors in this movie did a very good job, but personally I liked Laura Dern's performance most. She was very convincing as the drug addicted mother and was very funny to watch in the second half of the movie when she had to decide which camp she would chose. At first this movie was just too serious to call it a comedy. I'm not saying it wasn't any good, but it felt a bit too real to my taste. At first I had the feeling that this movie was created by some people who really wanted to give a powerful message against abortion to the world. Only late in the movie, I finally understood that this wasn't the case and at that moment I started to enjoy it a lot more. That's why I give this movie a 6.5/10 perhaps even a 7/10. I like the fact that they try to make fun of the subject, only too bad that they didn't start with that from the beginning.
  • Alexander Payne, from personal opinion, is a very talented director and writer. With the exception of his recent film 'Downsizing' (his most ambitious film with such a great concept but underwhelming in execution), all his films range from very good to outstanding, especially 'Sideways'.

    'Citizen Ruth' was his first full-length film, and while not his best or one of them (perhaps his second or third weakest, 'The Descendants' while still very good is also a lesser effort) there is a lot to admire. 'Citizen Ruth' may lack the viciousness and poignancy of his later and particularly best work, when Payne had properly found his feet and fine-tuned his style, hence why it is not rated as highly as much as them, but his talent for directing and writing for so early on is very much evident.

    The film is notable for handling a very difficult subject matter (abortion), but uniquely not taking sides and shows both sides of the argument rather than making a judgement on whether it's good or bad. This was a very brave and daring decision and attitude to take, and one that those who have been through it themselves in particular will appreciate and relate with, there is nothing to be offended by.

    Even with this difficult and sensitive subject, 'Citizen Ruth' manages to be entertaining in a darkly amusing way but doing it tastefully and taking it seriously still. In typical Payne style, it is also very thought-provoking and honest with plenty to say and saying it with tact.

    Payne directs with skill, even if his direction became more refined later. 'Citizen Ruth' is very nicely filmed, if not one of his most visually beautiful or striking films ('Sideways', 'The Descendants' and especially 'Nebraska' fit this distinction more). The story is compelling and balanced, if not always sharp in pacing in the latter stages.

    Similarly, Payne gets the best out of his actors. The whole cast are top notch, but this is sensational Laura Dern's, in one of her best and boldest performances, film.

    Overall, hugely impressive and brave. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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