Citizen Ruth

Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, Kurtwood Smith, Burt Reynolds. (1996, R, 96 min.)

REVIEWED Fri., March 14, 1997

Abortion rights is more a context than an "issue" for this take-no-prisoners satire on the clash between pro-choice and pro-life forces. At the center of the chaos is Ruth Stoops (Dern), a no-account white-trash derelict who's pregnant with her fourth illegitimate child and has just been jailed for her incorrigible paint huffing. She's quickly bailed out by a pro-life activist couple (Place and Smith) who envision the brain-fried naïf as a poster girl for their cause and begin pressuring her to publicly renounce her plans for an abortion. But just as Ruth begins to waver, a pro-choice group counters with its own brainwashing campaign aimed at swaying her. Neither side of the controversy fares well, but as Citizen Ruth's strong, sharply focused ending suggests, we can at least purge the dialogue of the extraneous hoopla and put the focus back on the women whose bodies, minds, and intimate decisions are the heart of the matter

More Alexander Payne Films
Woody is a man of few words who might not be all there, but Bruce Dern is all there and that's more than good enough for us.

Kimberley Jones, Nov. 29, 2013

The Descendants
George Clooney teams up with Sideways filmmaker Alexander Payne for this funny but tender story that's a little too smug for its own good.

Kimberley Jones, Nov. 25, 2011


Citizen Ruth, Alexander Payne, Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, Kurtwood Smith, Burt Reynolds

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)