Citizen Ruth is a 1996 comedy film that tells a story of a poor, irresponsible and pregnant woman who unexpectedly attracts attention from those involved in the debate about the morality and legality of abortion. The film stars Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, Kurtwood Smith Kenneth Mars, Tippi Hedren, Alicia Witt, M.C. Gainey and Kelly Preston, and features a memorable extended cameo by Burt Reynolds. It was the first feature film directed by Alexander Payne and was written by Payne and Jim Taylor. The movie was a drama film nominee for the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize.
The movie opens with Ruth Stoops and a man (apparently an ex-boyfriend) having intercourse on a bed in a flophouse, after which he disrespectfully throws her out of the apartment. She later goes to a hardware store to buy patio sealant and huffs it in a paper bag in an alley to get high. Ruth is portrayed as a dumb, inebriated addict, capable of doing nearly anything to get money or drugs.
Ruth has 4 kids, all of whom have been taken from her custody by the state because of her inability to care for them (or even for herself). Her kids are scattered among three different homes. Ruth goes to the