Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
By Eric Jessen July 6, 2010
With Robert Benton's Kramer vs Kramer divorce has never seemed more adorable and less messy – no adultery, no prenups, just love. And learning; Kramer husband (Dustin Hoffman) how to be a better parent to their son Billy (Justin Henry); Kramer wife (Meryl Streep) how to be a more “complete” person.
One night he comes home late, for reasons of the “bringin'-home-the-bacon” variety, and she runs out on him – to California “to find myself.” “It's not you it's me,” she tells him. Now Kramer husband has to raise Billy by himself. Much bonding occurs, so when Kramer wife returns Kramer husband won't give up Billy without a fight. Lawyers and judges get involved and Kramer wife is awarded custody of Billy despite all the heart-strings being pulled in the husband's favor.
It's all very civilized and upper-middle class. (Did I mention both Kramers are advertising executives in Manhattan and wife went to Smith.) Meryl Streep seems to be in about 15 minutes, of which she spends about 13 crying, and somehow she won Best Actress. Hoffman runs a lot with briefcases and portfolios under his arm and shares many warm looks with cute little Justin Henry which won him Best Actor.
In the end Kramer wife comes to her senses and decides to let husband keep Billy because she thinks it's best for their son. How nice. I'd say divorce has never seemed more sensible – even desirable. Maybe when Kramer vs Kramer was awarded Best Picture a few directors and producers had other things in mind. After seeing what it did for the Kramers I'd sign on the dotted line.