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Citizen Ruth (1996)

An irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides.

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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Diane Siegler
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Norm Stoney
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Rachel
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Harlan
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Dr. Charlie Rollins
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Judge Richter
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Nurse Pat
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Jessica Weiss
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Lance Rome ...
Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal ...
Tony Stoops
Shea Degan ...
Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli ...
Dr. George
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Storyline

Ruth Stoops is a poor indigent drug-user (a huffer - inhaling glue and paint for a high) whose down and out existence is complicated once more by becoming pregnant (she has had and lost four children already). When a judge orders that she gets an abortion or face a felony charge, she is befriended by Gail Stoney, a pro-lifer whose husband is president of the local "Babysavers" group. Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the pro-choice/pro-life struggle, with each side wanting her to take their side as a "message" to others - and the situation escalates... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Life, liberty, money and the pursuit of happiness. She's gotta have it. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for substance abuse, strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,709 (USA) (13 December 1996)

Gross:

$153,155 (USA) (10 January 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(FotoKem)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Inspired by the true story of Martina Greywind and follows the details of her story fairly closely. Ms. Greywind was a 28 year-old homeless North Dakota woman addicted to drugs who was unaware she was pregnant, after having had six children taken by the state, until being arrested for publicly inhaling spray-paint fumes (this was changed to patio sealant, a fictional product, for the film) and was charged with endangering her unborn child. She was bailed out by the Lambs of Christ, who offered her $10,000 if she gave birth to the child, even if it were given up for adoption. Ultimately, she had the abortion, with the fee donated by a pro-choice organization and was driven over 100 miles to the nearest clinic. See more »

Goofs

When Norm is lying next to Ruth on her bed, there is a change of camera. He moves his hand to the center of his chest in each camera shot. See more »

Quotes

Rachel: Oh shit! A vigil.
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Crazy Credits

About halfway through the credits, we hear the beginning of Tape 2, Side 1. See more »

Connections

Features Cops (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Payne's underappreciated gem
3 October 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's truly gratifying to see that Alexander Payne has really made a name for himself in the art of film direction, having made nothing less than two fantastic social satires. "Election" garnered him considerable praise as will "About Schmidt," but in my mind, "Citizen Ruth" is the best. It's not as funny as Election in the sense that there aren't the moments that make your jaw drop in terms of the delightfully vicious nature of the satire, but the script is just as thoughtful as it is funny, and Payne did a remarkable job satirizing what, by most accounts, is an "un-satirizable" subject. Laura Dern really deserved some kind of award (you know the academy would never have the stones to recognize a film such as this...) as her performance is both touching and hysterical. Some said the film started off great and then didn't really go anywhere, but I disagree. The final shot says it all with respect to the direction of the story, and it really amazes me that this film could be made without really taking a side on anything. Ultimately, I was blindsided by the film's astute message, which was not even about abortion itself, but the selfish nature of the two sides arguing it. Payne will undoubtably move on to make compelling films in the future that take advantage of higher budgets, etc., but "Citizen Ruth" deserves a place amongst the best first features in any genre.


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