Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
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 <email@example.com>
This movie marks the reunion of Laura Dern and Burt Reynolds in a theatrical movie. The 1970s Reynolds movie White Lightning (1973) had been Dern's uncredited film debut. Dern was just six years old when she appeared in a brief non-speaking walk on bit part. In White Lightning (1973), Dern played the daughter of her real life mother Diane Ladd who played Maggie. This time around in Citizen Ruth (1996), it is Dern who has the main part with Reynolds playing a supporting role. See more »
When Ruth is going out to party with her host family's daughter, she takes a hit from a bong, but does so incorrectly, not clearing the smoke from the chamber. See more »
[after seeing a movie about abortion]
I slept in a few dumpsters. Maybe I slept on some babies.
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About halfway through the credits, we hear the beginning of Tape 2, Side 1. See more »
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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