Kramer vs. Kramer is a legal drama film written and directed by Robert Benton, based on Avery Coleman’s 1977 novel of the same name. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander and Justin Henry. It tells the story of a couple’s divorce and the impact it has on their son, their relationship and parenting views.
This film is as impactful and realistic today as it was then. The story of a divorced couple’s custody battle over their young son and their differing views on raising children many parents and kids can relate to. It is deep, sad at times, might make you angry and also heartfelt at moments too. Both parent said love their son and both believe they are the best parent to raise him.
Ted Kramer (Hoffman) is a workaholic advertising executive who tries to be a good father to Billy (Henry), but eventually gives up after he realizes he’s being too strict. Ted comes home from work to find his wife Joanna (Streep) is leaving him. She leaves Billy with Ted. At first they resent each other, when Ted has no time to spend with hi men due to his increased work. They eventually learn to live with each other as father and son. Ted befriends his neighbor Margaret (Alexander), who had coaxed Joanna to leave him since she was unhappy. Margaret is also a single parent and she and Ted become good friends.
15 months after she walked out, Joanna goes back to New York to claim Billy and a custody battle occurs. Margaret is forced to tell how unhappy she was married to Ted in court. He reveals that he has had less time to spend with Billy because of his work overload. Joanna eventually gains custody of Billy.
This film isn’t a completely happy one. The son’s life for over year is spent in and out of houses and court. He doesn’t know who he going to live with next. This still happens to SO MANY kids today. Some people aren’t fit to raise children and some are. Some parents are strict and some are not. Parenting styles and marriage issues can clash, making an unstable household. Sometimes divorce is the only answer and often times the best solution. This film proves that.
Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep are outstanding in their roles. Jane Alexander is great as well. You see lifecycle through the eyes of a crumbling marriage, a divorce and custody battle, also through the eyes of a small child caught in the middle of it. Parts of this film are very slow, rather boring and some are long and drawn out. This is definitely one of the better “family issue” films, though it’s not fantastic by any means. It is a story that needed to be told in both book and film, because it is a serious subject that so many can relate to. But the majority of this movie is slow paced and not one that can be watched over and over again like Ordinary People or The Squid and the Whale.
Overall, the acting is great, but this feature was a bit boring for such bold subject matter. But one that still deserves a viewing at least once. 11+ 3.5/5