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Citizen Ruth Movie Review

nice message dern home

This superb satire takes no prisoners in a razor-sharp examination of both sides of the abortion issue. Laura Dern is terrific as Ruth, a glue-sniffing, pregnant, unfit mother of four who is busted for fetus endangerment, and then learns that the judge will go easy on her if there's no fetus to endanger. Faster than you can count up to 400 bucks, Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place as Norm and Gail Stoney are paying Ruth's bail, and taking her home to stay in their immaculate Christian home. What's the catch? Ruth has to HAVE Baby Tanya, of course, because it will send a powerful message to America from all those nice right-to-life folks. Ruth hears the word “message,” panics, and hunts for the nearest tube of glue. Her next trial and tribulation is with the nice folks who believe in a woman's-right-to-her-own-body. They take Ruth home to stay with them, too. What's the catch? Ruth has to exercise her freedom to choose an abortion, of course, because it will send a powerful message to America from all those nice folks who believe in THAT freedom, of course. Ruth hears the word “message,” panics again, and indulges in more substances! But there IS one non-partisan message in which Ruth has faith, and it is this delicious concept that wipes out every argument either side can contrive. The well-chosen supporting cast (Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly Preston, M.C. Gainey, Kenneth Mars, Alicia Witt, Tippi Hedren as Super Feminist Jessica Weiss, and even Diane Ladd as Ruth's mom) adds to the surreal quality of Ruth's dilemma and her wildly skewed alternatives. And check out the adolescent boy who's the constant attendant of Blaine Gibbons, the right-to-life spokesman played by Burt Reynolds. He's a subtle symbol of hypocrisy at the top of the power chain, reinforced by Norm Stoney's lustful leering at Ruth while playing the good Christian husband and father to the hilt. If even one whiff of politically correct banana oil makes you RETCH, Citizen Ruth is YOUR movie! AKA: Precious; Meet Ruth Stoops.

1996 (R) 104m/C Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, Kurtwood Smith, Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds, M.C. Gainey, Kenneth Mars, Kathleen Noone, David Graf, Tippi Hedren, Alicia Witt, Diane Ladd; D: Alexander Payne; W: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor; C: James Glennon; M: Rolfe Kent. Montreal World Film Festival ‘95: Best Actress (Dern). VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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