Citizen Ruth - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Citizen Ruth Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2013
One of the best political satires to deal with the extremely volatile subject of abortion, first time director Alexander Payne gave a powerhouse first film to his repertoire with this bitterly acid black comedy. What I think everyone appreciates is that both sides of this debate are shown in equally unpleasant terms, but not exactly unrealistic ones. The conservative branch are a set of violent and mean spirited protesters, but they also have women who regret their own abortions, and people who sincerely try to help the less fortunate. The liberal side is characterized as a set of lesbian leaning protestors and a freedom fighting mercenary who care about the right to choose. In the middle of this blood sport for the sake of creation is the character of Ruth (Dern), who doesn't care about the politics that make her center stage in a tumultuous feud. Instead of caring about the sanctity of human life, or about the freedom to choose, she cares about what is best for her. She makes the film enjoyable because she cares about very little except getting a lot of money and getting high behind a convenience store. It's really interesting how each side is fighting for her rights in their own way, trying to give her the freedom to choose and yet both leaning towards a different end-game, and yet she only wants to know what's best for herself. It's this selfish attitude that makes for the best moments, especially because there isn't any morale and certainly not any lessons learned from her experiences. Ruth is continually given the chance to do right, but every time she enables her formal bad behavior so she can get away clean. This film illustrates that human choice precedes morals, intellectual discussion, and politics, and that human choice is subjective based on who the person is. I think this film is good for anyone, on either side of the political spectrum, not for educational purposes, but because it works as a great character study as well as satire for its own sake.
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2011
This marked the feature debut of director and co-writer Alexander Payne, and man, did he get off to a good start.

This is a scathing satire on the hot-button issue of abortion, and the ballsiest move that is made is that the film takes neither side, and instead skewers them both equally.

Ruth is an unfit, drug addicted scumbag loser who, after finding out she's pregnant with her fifth child, finds herself unwittingly in the middle of the pro-life/pro-choice war as a hapless pawn who really wants nothing to do with either side, but is willing to play ball once she figures out that either side is willing to give her tons of cash if she joins in,

The film is a tad rough, but makes for a striking debut. It's got nothing but unlikable characters, and takes the best position on an issue where neither side is truly right or truly wrong. The portrayals of the pro-choicers and the pro-lifers are dead on accurate, and that will probably make some people very uneasy.

I think this is a bold film, and one that's also very sharp, funny, and entertaining, It does get a bit repetitive after a while, but overall, proves to be quite solid.

Laura Dern is brilliant as Ruth, and this is easily her most courageous and strong performance. It takes talent to pull off such a tough character, but she absolutely nails it. Other actors such as Kurtwood Smith and Swoosie Kurtz turn in some good work as well, but seem far less well rounded, and veer more often than not towards caricature. It's still some nice work though.

Payne obviously went on to far greater achievements, but this marked a great place for him to begin. Give it a go, it's quite something.
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2014
There aren't to many comedies about abortion out there today, but Alexander Payne attempts on in Citizen Ruth. The movie has guts, but the humor itself doesn't have the shock value I was expecting. The witty Payne could've pulled a few jaw droppers, but didn't even attempt them. The movie still has funny moments, as Ruth is pulled between a poster child of pro-life and pro-choice, when she as a drug addict gets pregnant with her forth child. The espionage reveal was funny, but there aren't to many other laugh out loud moments.

The film has some explorative cinematography, when put in the first person perspective of Ruth. It's nothing ground breaking, but is intriguing.

I felt that Ruth switched from mellow disinterest to extreme passion to often. Perhaps it was to show the ever changing moves of an inhaler addict, but it didn't always make sense. Luara Dern has gotten acclaim for this role, but I didn't see anything special. Little true emotion, and far to much swaying.
Super Reviewer
½ September 11, 2009
Number one its ballsy, I mean really a comedy about abortion is just not the type of film that is made too often. Number two, Laura Dern is one of the bet actors alive and here she is given a really great character. Ruth is a woman who really only cares about herself and she becomes the unwilling pawn in the ideological tug of war that ensues. As unlikeable as Ruth is at times, we really do feel for her and Laura Dern makes that happen. Alexander Payne ingeniously parodies both sides of the issue but it never leaves the realm of believability.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2006
Sketchy satire with loser as unwitting bargaining chip in war on abortion.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2012
"Citizen Ruth" is the most blatant satire I have ever seen, and it's one of the funniest as well. Alexander Payne is such a gifted writer and his execution is usually spot-on as well. "Citizen Ruth" is not his best film, but a darn good one regardless. It's eccentric and a little out and I doubt that very many will really like it, but it's funny and endearing and Laura Dern gives a wonderfully childish performance as the titular character. Also, Kurtwood Smith is great as well. I absolutely love watching him act. Why isn't he cast in roles like this more often?
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2008
Brilliant! Laura Dern gives an outstanding performance, though the excellent supporting cast shine as beautifully. The film is as unbiased as it is hilarious.
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2008
Laura Dern is hilarious in this.
Super Reviewer
October 2, 2007
"Ruth, you listen to me! Don't you do it! What if I'd aborted you? Well at least I wouldn't have had to suck your boyfriends cock! Don't you bring that up again! That's ancient history! I've been saved! Fuck you!
A brilliant dark comedy about abortion. Laura Dern gives the performance of a lifetime. Great cast and a great score.
½ January 2, 2015
Alexander Payne makes his directorial debut in this satire of the American Abortion debate about a unintelligent young woman with drug and alcohol abuse issues who gets pregnant and ends up getting pulled by both sides of the abortion debate to be used as a symbol for their causes. Laura Dern is great as the titular Ruth, and there is a whole range of supporting characters that are fun. The best part is that both sides of the debate are presented satirically, no one is treated like their side is 100% right. Really worth a look, a lot of fun, though Payne does go on to make even better films.
½ November 27, 2011
Slightly amusing at times, but is missing a little something, perhaps an emotional center?? I liked how dedicated the film and Laura Dern are committed to her character, she's pretty funny. Part of the problem, though, is that she seems like a symbol more than a character, and that might have been the director's intention, but it doesn't really incline me to care about any of it.
½ December 23, 2007
Successfully satirizes both sides of the abortion debate (at least circa 1996). Still conflicted about the ending (though I love how both sides end up fighting over literally no one), but this is a film that needs to be seen and discussed more.
½ September 7, 2008
So this film is funny in some parts but mostly sad...but true. the portiat painted is one of irresponsiblity, cycle of ignorance and the idea of brainwashing. Everyone has an opinion on abortion and people want the babies to be born but what happens after. (ON my soapbox) advocate sexual matureness and use protection for pets sake.
April 6, 2008
it was stupid of them to trust her with free access to so many chemicals, booze, & cash. they fully knew she was an addict and did nothing to take that into account and so got what they deserved. although the baby didn't...
½ March 2, 2008
It was like a train wreck, I couldn't stop watching. This movie is so off the wall, kind of like the stepford wives.
½ September 23, 2007
Beh. Didn't get much out of it other than seeing another stepping stone from where Alexander Payne came from.
½ July 2, 2007
Doooon't give up on Baby Taaaanyaaa, doooon't give up on Baby Taaaanyaaa...
Who does American satire better than Mr. Alexander Payne? All of his films (this, his earliest, along with Election, About Schmidt and Sideways) focus on people just a little too absurd to be living (i.e. Tracy Flick, Ruth Stoops, Warren Schmidt), taking up residence in places in America that always seem to be cloudy, as if even the weather couldn't give a shit about them.

Laura Dern plays Ruth Stoops, a homeless druggie addicted to snuffing patio sealant, who winds up pregnant and sentenced to a jail term for carelessly threatening the life of her unborn child... that is, until the judge bargains that he'll drop her term if she gets an abortion. Some women from a group called the Babysavers end up sharing a cell with Ruth, and one all-American couple (seen above) takes pity on her and invites her into their home, hoping to clean up the hopeless Ruth. From there, satire ensues.

What's amazing about a movie about abortion is what side it takes; Citizen Ruth decides firmly not to side with either group, and in lesser hands the movie could have seemed wishy-washy, but under the direction of Mr. Payne, every satirical moment works hilariously, and the closing sequence is almost breathtaking in its scope and message, without being preachy.

Laura Dern is strange-looking, but she works as white trash. The supporting cast is hilarious .. no other real big names, besides Burt Reynolds as a supah-creepy old man (as usual). Definitely worth a rental.
½ June 26, 2007
A comedy about the abortion issue is a tough sell, but it almost works here. It's a shame, too, because the film has a lot to say about the lunacy of both political extremes that champion human rights, while trampling everyone in their way.
January 23, 2016
Alexander Payne is an interesting filmmaker and I have tremendous respect for him. But sometimes, I don't find his sense of humor funny and I also don't have patience for unlikable characters with no arc either. Laura Dern is terrific and absolutely despicable as Ruth Stoops, and I admire the film's courage to tackle on such a sensitive subject matter. My problem with the film is more of a personal one, and that is this: I don't like movies that revolve around a character with no redeeming qualities. Citizen Ruth is smart and thought-provoking, but doesn't have much emotional resonance in the end.
October 24, 2015
i bet this looked fantastic as a script.
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