Citizen Ruth [1996]

An uneven script is the flaw of this social satire set in America's heartland. It deals with an unrepentant junkie, played with unexpected finesse by Laura Dern. Pregnant for the umpteenth time and informed by a judge he may overlook felony charges if she aborts the pregnancy, the stoned Ruth Stoops is claimed as a dazed spokesperson by both sides of the controversial abortion issue. This has a lot to say about the abuse and influence of the media The black, black humor is subtle and intelligent and quite often works in the hands of the strong supporting cast. However, the script occasionally lurches into depressing territory, throwing off the balance. Still, this raises interesting issues and Dern's performance is very powerful. Ruth is flawed and prickly, but Dern brings her to life by imbuing her with interesting personality tics. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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