Citizen Ruth Reviews

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February 5, 2015
"Citizen Ruth" mocks the misguided morals of Christian conservatives who shame, threaten, and scare women into having children they can't afford to support and attempts to mock the left with some weak jabs at hippie culture. The character of Ruth is problematic, but the film as a whole is funny enough to warrant a recommendation.
½ January 13, 2015
An interesting satire on the topic of abortion. Payne does a great job portraying just how ridiculous democracy can get sometimes, and how it can make some people feel lost in the never ending moral battles. On the downside, certain parts of the script felt forced. A good satire knows just how far it actually needs to go in order to be satirical, but Citizen Ruth seemed to walk that thin line between good satire and cringe-worthy jokes much too frequently. Also the soundtrack was extremely out of place and distracting. But Laura Dern's unforgettable performance as an aging drug addict is likely one of her greatest performances, and is most definitely the best reason to see this film.
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.
August 21, 2014
Citizen Ruth is a comedy not about the topic of abortion, but about opposing fanatics of a political issue who seem to be no better than the other making a glue-huffing homeless woman as despicable as Ruth Stoop look like the sane one. Very clever. Very funny.
February 22, 2010
(First and only viewing - 9/24/2009)
May 19, 2014
Brilliantly acted, finely crafted satire that goes after both sides of the debate--and the notion of debate over this subject in the first place.
½ April 24, 2014
Oh '90s Alexander Payne, I miss you. Come back to me!
February 23, 2014
A powerful film that gives Laura Dern the performance of a lifetime. A wonderful supporting cast and even though it was his first film, a way different light in tone from Payne's work.
January 6, 2014
Great performance by Dern, but wears a little thin because she's not sympathetic, just kind of an empty soul, and there's no one to root for in this movie. Good movie though, just not a great movie.
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.
cosmo313
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.
March 13, 2013
this is a really good movie that surprised me. most effective if seen when it came out, when the abortion debate was raging but hold up, shows all the sides, and laura dern is fantastic.
March 1, 2013
There's a little thing called an unlikeable protagonist. I'm not a fan of an unlikeable protagonist. But still, it's an Alex Payne film, so at least it has some redeemable qualities.
½ September 11, 2012
Unless you actually have lived the lives of some people or been involved closely with them it is impossible to understand their life experience. Even people who work with "social problems" after years of experience throw up their hands and say, how can you keep doing this. Laura Dern is disturbingly convincing as a serial fuck up and glue and solvent sniffing addict who falls pregnant after having 4 children taken out of her custody by the state. She unwittinlgy becomes the cause celebre of both the pro and anti abortion lobbies with dark and disturbingly funny results. There have been many films made about addiction and the life of the addict. This one is right on the money.
August 18, 2012
A whole lot of fun, much of which is down to Laura Dern's excellent turn as Ruth.
½ June 16, 2012
Citizen Ruth shows early indications of the great film maker Alexander Payne would come to be recognised as. Laura Dern plays the title character, a young woman pregnant woman who is taken in by Norm (Kurtwood Smith) and his family, leaders of the local "pro-life" movement. The movie is audacious and courageous not simply for its relentless satire on the abortion debate, but for the way it lampoons both sides. Ruth becomes a pawn in an ideological war in which both factions may actually care little about her at all. The plot device that kicks off the story -- Ruth is court-ordered to get an abortion or face jail time -- feels a bit flimsy, but there is more than enough biting satire throughout (Burt Reynolds plays a "pro-life" celebrity, an eleventh hour secret weapon of his party), Laura Dern's wonderful performance, and a fantastic ending that work together to make this a great film.
½ June 4, 2012
the controversial subject matter of alexander payne's "citizen ruth" may make the film often difficult to watch, partly due to laura dern's very convincing performance, though unlike "the descendants", the film never feels like a drama. this isn't a bad thing by any means, as payne's brand of humor is laced all through out the film and often in the oddest moments. it's not as good as most of payne's films, but it's still really good.
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 April 28, 2012
Dern is fantastic as a pawn between a bunch of parody characters on either side of the abortion debate. The film itself is a bit uneven but still enjoyable and effectively interesting and fun.
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