Citizen Ruth; Drama/ Satire, USA, 1996; D: Alexander Payne, S: Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Kelly Preston, M. C. Gainey, Kenneth Mars, David Graf, Tippi Hedren, Burt Reynolds, Alicia Witt
Ruth Stoops has a fight with her boyfriend after intercourse, and he throws her out of his apartment. She is poor and doesn't have nowhere to go, while her ex-husband hives her only 15 $. She uses it to buy inhaling drugs, and thus gets arrested. While in prison, she discovers that she is pregnant, thus judge Richter advises her to make an abortion since she already has 4 children she doesn't care of. But that is heard by Gail and her husband Norm who hate Richter and take Ruth into their home in order to persuade her to have the baby. But, at the same time, women's rights activists persuade her to stick with her decision about abortion, and she then moves with them. Every side offers her 15.000 $, but Ruth has a miscarriage, takes the money and runs away.
Directorial debut of Alexander Payne, "Citizen Ruth" (is he making a homage to Welles' debut "Citizen Kane"?) is a sparsely funny independent film that would like to be a satire, but due to it's pale tone, depressive mood and half-hearted approach it ends up seeming more like some apathetic drama. There is little of Payne's shrill style present here, whose later films about outsiders like "Election" and "Sideways" were very acclaimed, even though his subversive theme about abortion refuses to pick either side and just mocks extremists both pro and against, while all actors put a lot of effort in their roles, but that isn't enough due to uninteresting situations: Laura Dern is very good, just as Swoosie Kurtz, while Burt Reynolds has a small appearance as the pro-baby activist. There are maybe just 2 or 3 neat ideas present, like when anti-abortion activist state that "abortion is worse than concentration camp", but they barely cower up that this is just a sufficient film with too mild energy.Grade:+