Winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor, and Screenplay, Kramer vs. Kramer remains as powerfully moving today as it was when released in 1979, simply because its drama will remain relevant for couples of any generation. Adapted by director Robert Benton from the novel by Avery Corman, this is perhaps the finest, most evenly balanced film ever made about the failure of marriage and the tumultuous shift of parental roles. It begins when Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) bluntly informs her husband Ted (Dustin Hoffman) that she's leaving him, just as his... advertising career is advancing and demanding most of his waking hours. Self-involvement is just one of the film's underlying themes, along with the search for identity that prompts Joanna to leave Ted with their first-grade son (Justin Henry), who now finds himself living with a workaholic parent he barely knows. Juggling his domestic challenge with professional deadlines, Ted is further pressured when his wife files for custody of their son. This legal battle forms the dramatic spine of the film, but its power is derived from Benton's flawlessly observant script and the superlative performances of his entire cast. Because Benton refuses to assign blame and deals fairly with both sides of a devastating dilemma, the film arrives at equal levels of pain, growth, and integrity under emotionally stressful circumstances. That gives virtually every scene the unmistakable ring of truth--a quality of dramatic honestly that makes Kramer vs. Kramer not merely a classic tearjerker, but one of the finest American dramas of its decade. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com [show more]
It took a long time for Hollywood to finally tackle the subject of divorce and what it does to those that it directly affects, considering that the industry were at it ever since it was born. However, the film doesn't look at it from the point of view of the woman but from the male perspective and the impact it has on him in particular and his seven year old son.
The film begins at the point when Joanna Kramer leaves her husband Ted and their son Billy just as her husband has been offered a huge promotion in an advertising company. You then get the feeling that he's a workaholic who's been paying more attention to his job than his wife's needs. This is where the film falls flat at times because you don't really get a sense of really well developed backstory as to a genuine reason why Joanna leaves Ted and abandons her young son. You are therefore bias from the very start towards Ted and the film becomes too simplified.
What the film does offer is something that is quite fast paced for the subject matter and containing many dramatic turns as the struggling father copes with the responsibility of taking care of Billy all by himself whilst maintaining the high standards of work ethic he has achieved in his employment, dealing with the trauma Billy suffers from his mother leaving them and the sudden reappearance of Joanna as she attempts to win back custody of her son having gained her mental stability and taken control of her life.
As a parent and husband myself, going through the joys and challenges family life offers I was most impressed with the many observational accuracies, albeit slightly heightened, that the film shone a light on, particularly when a father has to cope with taking care of his child all by himself and his weaknesses are exposed. It also beamed a light on the ruthless and uncaring world of corporate America which couldn't care less about child rearing or family crisis, except equating it to performance at work and how much money a company could potentially lose. It gives you a sense of what you can admire about American culture such as the amazing determination and confidence displayed by those wanting the best for their loved ones whilst also exposing some unsavoury domestic habits that give an impression of people who are quite lazy with things like cooking a proper meal, or washing their hands after using the toilet and wearing their shoes on the bed. But this only adds to the film because it gives you a sense of the character's strengths and their weaknesses.
Most of the issues are resolved too easily in the film with positive outcomes and all difficulties are generally overcome and pretty soon you know exactly where the film is going and in that sense it becomes very predictable. You know that there are no winners and losers from the start because the child loses the daily comfort of on parent no matter what choices are made as it appears pretty clear from the start that the couple won't get back together but the naturalistic performances set to the backdrop of the bustling streets, offices, homes and parks of New York City make it intriguing to see the film play out to its climax. This is a very easy film to watch from start to finish and reinforces the importance of working hard at a marriage. The main characters are ultimately compassionate and do what's best for their son. certainly from a parent's point of view, this is a gem of a film.
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Dustin Hoffman stars in this drama directed by Robert Benton. Ted Kramer (Hoffman) is an art director for an ad agency. His whole world changes when his wife (Meryl Streep) walks out on him, leaving Ted to care for their young son. The additional strain causes Ted to lose his job, although being forced to spend more time with the boy cements their relationship drawing them closer together. When his wife reappears, demanding custody of the child, Ted decides to fight and is forced to hire an expensive attorney. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director for Benton, Best Actor for Hoffman and Best Supporting Actress for Streep.
Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Kramer vs Kramer is the box office smash that gathered 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman and Best Supporting Actress for Meryl Streep. Returning home late from work one night, a career-obsessed Ted Kramer is told by his wife that she is leaving him. After a life of being 'somebody's daughter' or 'somebody's wife,' she's going off to find herself - leaving Ted to care for their 6 year-old son. Ted, while trying to hold down his job, gets to really know his son: cooking his meals, taking him to the park, understanding every need and fear. For the first time in his life he feels like a fulfilled parent. But then Joanna returns. And she wants her son back... Actors Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry, Howard Duff, Jane Alexander, JoBeth Williams, George Coe & Howland Chamberlain Director Robert Benton Certificate PG Year 1979 Screen Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Languages English Duration 1 hour and 40 minutes (approx)