Hot Docs review: Ask Dr. Ruth

Ryan White's film about the German American sex educator is enjoyable and very vanilla


ASK DR. RUTH (Ryan White, USA). 100 minutes. Rating: NNN


Ahead of Dr. Ruth’s 90th birthday, director Ryan White followed the German American sex educator around for months, capturing footage of her still-busy schedule and reflecting on her 40-year career for this biographic documentary.

Born Ruth Westheimer, the four-foot-seven outspoken doctor seems as happy and vivacious as ever, spending time in Brooklyn with her children and grandchildren in between stints on radio shows and daytime TV.

Her life is almost unimaginable considering her dark history as a young girl born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany. Orphaned at the age of 10, Westheimer moved to Switzerland, Palestine and finally New York where she built the successful and at times controversial career she has today.

While White has created an intimate portrait, the doc leaves us asking the question, “Why now?” He doesn’t connect his subject to current debates around sex education, women’s health and sexual violence. Instead, Asking Dr. Ruth offers an enjoyable enough recap of once-taboo topics, but in today’s age of sexual awareness and information that feels a little too vanilla.

Apr 26, 6 pm, Isabel Bader Apr 27, 10 am, TIFF 2

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