Abortions, Laura Dern, Secret Lesbians, and Huffing Spray Paint
Alexander Payne's "Citizen Ruth" and its timely relevance
It takes a lot to make an “abortion movie”. It takes a lot to make a movie about abortion and have it be good. Juno, Obvious Child, even Dirty Dancing are well-made films wherein getting an abortion serves as a stand-in for asserting one’s selfhood during a tumultuous time in one’s life. But few of these films truly center the political discourses surrounding abortion, and even fewer do it in a way that is poignant and personal and witty and funny. Alexander Payne’s 1996 black comedy Citizen Ruth is all of the above and more, centering around a homeless spray-paint huffing 29-year-old Nebraskan played by the incomparable Laura Dern.