Ted Kramer is a career man for whom his work comes before his family. His wife Joanna cannot take this anymore, so she decides to leave him. Ted is now faced with the tasks of housekeeping and taking care of himself and their young son Billy. When he has learned to adjust his life to these new responsibilities, Joanna resurfaces and wants Billy back. Ted, however, refuses to give him up, so they go to court to fight for the custody of their son. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
A Great End to a Great Decade of Best Picture Winners.
"Kramer vs. Kramer" is probably the weakest winner of the Best Picture Oscar in the 1970s, but that does not mean that this it is not an excellent film that more than delivers. The film deals with a career man (Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman) who must rear his young son (Justin Henry, the youngest Oscar-nominee ever) after his wife (Oscar-winner Meryl Streep) leaves them with no real explanation. What follows is a heart-touching story about the man who finally learns what it means to be a father and a boy who learns who his father really is. Of course the film becomes heart-rending later as Streep returns after a long absence and wants to take Hoffman to court for custody of their son. "Kramer vs. Kramer" then becomes an intense courtroom drama that has few equals. Robert Benton's Oscar-winning direction and screenplay could have fallen flat several times, but he stays focused throughout and his plan works to near perfection. Of course the aforementioned performances and the performance of Oscar-nominee Jane Alexander are the primary calling cards of the film. Hoffman and Streep are at the top of their careers here and their acts are electric and thunderous from start to finish. All in all, "Kramer vs. Kramer" could have been unintentionally funny or even down-right dull, but the film is so well-made and acted that it succeeds with stunning results. 5 stars out of 5.
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