Ruby in Paradise

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Ruby in Paradise
Video release poster
Directed by Victor Nunez
Produced by Keith Crofford
Written byVictor Nunez
Music byCharles Engstrom
CinematographyAlex Vlacos
Edited byVictor Nunez
Distributed by October Films
Release date
  • January 1993 (1993-01)(Sundance)
  • October 1993 (1993-10)(U.S.)
Running time
115 minutes
Budget$800,000 (estimated)[ citation needed ]
Box office$1 million[ citation needed ]

Ruby in Paradise is a 1993 film written, directed, and edited by Victor Nunez, and starring Ashley Judd, Todd Field, Bentley Mitchum, Allison Dean, and Dorothy Lyman. An homage to Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, [1] the film is a character study, proceeding at a leisurely pace.



Ruby (Judd) is a young woman in her early 20s and the narrator of the film. She leaves her small town in Tennessee, landing in Panama City, Florida, a summer resort town she visited as a child. Although she arrives there in fall, at the beginning of the off-season, she gets a job at Chambers Beach Emporium, a souvenir store run by Mildred Chambers (Lyman), overcoming the owner's initial rejection of her employment application by telling her "I've done retail before, and I work real cheap."

Over the course of a year she keeps a journal (from which the film's narration is taken) and contemplates her career ups and downs, her love life, her past, and her future. Ruby's introspective narration is interspersed with routine scenes at the souvenir store or conversations with her friend Rochelle (Dean), or the men she dates, Ricky (Mitchum) and Mike (Field).


Production notes

Ruby in Paradise was filmed on location in Panama City, Florida at locations including Show N Tail gentleman's club and White Western Cabin.

Reception and release

The film received positive reception from mainstream critics. After the movie's theatrical run, the film was released on videocassette and laserdisc in 1994 by Republic and that same year in Canada by Cineplex Odeon. In 2008, Alliance Films released the movie on DVD in Canada.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 86% from 28 reviews with the consensus: "Led by a magnetic performance from Ashley Judd, the gently subdued Ruby in Paradise perceptively captures one woman's journey of self-discovery." [2]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 4 stars out of 4, and wrote: "Ruby in Paradise is a wonderful, life-affirming movie about a young woman who has that kind of luck. It's a celebration of heart, courage and persistence." [3] Variety wrote: "Victor Nunez has returned with a film of gentle, intelligent qualities, vividly portraying a young woman's inner life." [4]


The film won the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival (together with Public Access ). Roger Ebert picked it as one of his Top Ten Films for the year.[ citation needed ] Judd's performance earned her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, and Field's performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination. The film was also nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.

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  1. "Northanger Abbey". Jane Austen Society of North America. January 10, 2010.
  3. Ebert, Roger (November 26, 1993). "Ruby in Paradise movie review (1993) | Roger Ebert". Chicago Sun-Times .
  4. Variety Staff (1 January 1993). "Ruby in Paradise". Variety .
Preceded by
In the Soup
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic
tied with Public Access
Succeeded by
What Happened Was