Citizen Ruth

An irreverent, politically incorrect 1996 satire about the abortion debate by writer-director Alexander Payne, an independent (at least before he signed up with Miramax) who considers activists on both sides of the debate equally ridiculous. As a comedy, this has its audacious moments, but I was more offended than impressed by Laura Dern’s award-winning performance as a pregnant, glue-sniffing slacker who becomes an unwitting symbol for both pro-life and pro-choice factions, because, like so much else in the movie, it reeks of class condescension. When her character finally musters the gumption to fight for her own interests, she becomes more palatable; but she’s still just another version of Alex in A Clockwork Orangesimply a pawn of the author’s thesis. If you’re alienated from politics and maybe from humanity in general, you might like this. I didn’t. With Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Kelly Preston, Tippi Hedren, and Burt Reynolds. (JR)

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