(Laura Dern) is a poor indigent drug-user (a huffer - inhaling
glue and paint for a high) whose down-and-out existence is
complicated once more by becoming pregnant (she has had and lost
four children already). When a judge orders that she gets an
abortion or face a felony charge, she is befriended by Gail
Stoney, a pro-lifer whose husband is president of the local "Babysavers"
group. Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the
pro-choice/pro-life struggle of abortion, with each side wanting
her to take their side as a "message" to others - and the
is a hard film to categorize. Itís a comedy for sure, yet itís
also a social commentary. It could even pass as a semi-serious
drama. To do without these categories when talking about this
film is probably a good idea, because Citizen Ruth is
and directed by Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt),
Citizen Ruth tells its story straight and doesnít shy away from
anything. The mix of characters is the essential ingredient that
makes this film stand out. Whether a character is dirty, ugly,
or mean, Citizen Ruth doesnít care. Its message, which
concerns abortion, is very much provocative and indicative of
the kind of blatant people who exist. The writing of Payne and
co-writer Jim Taylor allows for some pretty strange, yet
provocative performances by lead actress Laura Dern, supporting
players Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, M.C.
Gainey, and Burt Reynolds.
though Citizen Ruth tends to drag on and on in some
spots, and fails to make Ruth Stoops at least a little likeable,
or more humane at least, itís basically a dramedy dealing with
everyday idiosyncrasies and how the belief or disbelief for a
particular cause paints an unusual picture of the average
7 out of 10
quite a few scenes containing grainy spots and minor scratches.
Presented in widescreen format (1.85:1) and enhanced for 16x9
televisions, Citizen Ruth offers only a decent picture
quality. I didnít expect much, but the transfer is as fair as it
is going to get.
7 out of 10
Digital Surround Sound available on this disc is fairly decent.
It really doesnít make a difference on the viewing experience.
Much of the sound is emitted from the front speakers and is very
distant and almost non-existent in the rear speakers. Citizen
Ruth is also available in a French language track.
7 out of 10
by Alexander Payne, Co-Writer Jim Taylor, Actress Laura Dern and Production
Designer Jane Ann Stewart
out of 10
is a very different kind of comedy. It incorporates a little
drama and social commentary to combine to what I would call a
decent dramedy. Fueled by an outrageous performance by Laura
Dern and an entertaining commentary track, Citizen Ruth
is a DVD you might want to "consider" renting or buying (if
youíre a fan of this type of comedy or writer/director team).