By Tanya Cholakov
Citizen Ruth, with abortion as its tool, successfully satirizes the extremists in today’s society. Everyone is Pro- or anti something or other nowadays. And that’s exactly what Citizen Ruth, director Alexander Payne’s first feature-length film, sets out to poke fun at.
Unfortunately, the finale of the whole shebang is painfully predictable, but it had to be to remain neutral. The script refuses to take sides on the abortion issue; it remains a social commentary poking fun at all sides.
The story focuses on a lower-class coman who is pregnant and addicted to drugs. Even though she is pregnant, Ruth continues to inhale hazardous paint thinner vapours.
The film’s plot evolves from an average, well-produced flick into a well-written satire on the fantasicm that surrounds abortion. Ruth already has four kids that her brother takes care of and she doesn’t want this one either. She just wants to get high. Aware of her irresponsibility, the county judge “advises” her to have an abortion, and although willing, she can’t afford it.
While in jail, Ruth is befriended by a group of women, BabySavers in disguise, who were arrested for protesting outside the abortion clinic. Confused, and generally stupid, Ruth trusts them, assuming they have her best interests in mind. Members of the pro-choice group also manage to befriend out heroine, further confusing poor Ruth. Her pregnancy becomes the national symbol for both groups.
Ruth gradually learns to look out for herself rather than worry about the various causes that have been thrust in her face. Through this process, she evolves as an individual.
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) plays Ruth Stoops, a performance that won the Best Actress award at the Montreal World Film Festival. Supporting members including Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly Preston and Burt Reynolds all deliver outstanding performances in their extravagant roles.
Payne’s use of exaggeration is hilarious and clearly relays the satirical message of the film. We can laugh at the witty, honest dialogue and ridiculous characters.