We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
One of the danger signals of substance abuse, I'm pretty sure, is finding yourself sniffing patio sealant. Ruth Stoops, the heroine of "Citizen Ruth," gets an even clearer signal: When the arresting cops already know your name, that's a real tip-off you have a problem.
Pitiful, bedraggled Ruth (Laura Dern) is a forlorn specimen of hopelessness with more than a dozen arrests for "illegal inhalation." She has just been thrown out by her boyfriend (of one night) and turned away by her brother-in-law, and now she's told she is pregnant.
"You've been found to be an unfit mother four times!" a Tulsa judge informs her. "Uh-uh," Ruth says. "Two times." The judge threatens her with the charge of "felony criminal endangerment of a fetus," but offers to drop the charges if she'll have an abortion. The logic there is difficult to follow, but it's nothing compared to the ideological thicket that Ruth wanders into after her case becomes a national battleground for pro- and anti-abortion groups.
"Citizen Ruth," written and directed by Alexander Payne, is a satire with the reckless courage to take on both sides in the abortion debate. There are no positive characters in the film--certainly not Ruth, whose preferred state is oblivion, and who perks up only when both sides start making cash offers. At a time when almost every film has a "market" in mind, here is a movie with a little something to offend anyone who has a strong opinion on abortion.