I knew it was a dramatic film about a custody battle, but I didn't think it'd touch me as much as it did. I cried during the movie, of course, but I surprised myself when 15 minutes after the credits rolled I was still crying. It just saddened me all around to think of going through such an ordeal.
The film won 5 Academy Awards total, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
Dustin Hoffman did an incredible job as Ted Kramer. It was amazing to see his character grow and develop over 15 months, cumulating to the epic end when he accepts with sadness the lot he's been given. I love that when he finally accepts his own defeat for the sake of son, fate changes and finally something fair happens to him.
This review, written in 1979 before the movie won any Academy Awards, is a perfect re-cap of the film and the talent required to put together such a stunning piece of art. The opening remarks say a lot...
"Kramer vs. Kramer" wouldn't be half as good as it is -- half as intriguing and absorbing -- if the movie had taken sides. The movie's about a situation rich in opportunities for choosing up sides: a divorce and a fight for the custody of a child But what matters in a story like this (in the movies and in real life, too) isn't who's right or wrong, but if the people involved are able to behave according to their own better nature.
Dramatic speeches, quiet hugs, sentimental whimpers from a child stuck in a bad situation, and the love Ted gives Joanna to the end, are all mixed together to make a wonderful film... a film I believe wouldn't be made as well now. It was made and released in a time where divorce was still a stigma. Today, it'd be dubbed "yet another divorce movie," and some of the beauty in the brutal truth the film presents would be cheapened. But its initial acceptance in the Hollywood community (which accounted for the time, the setting, and those actors) is now protected within a glass case. We can watch, look in and learn from it... but we cannot cheapen it. I know there's a lot to be learned from such a film, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to watch the film. And if you haven't seen it yet, I really think you should. (It's on Netflix instant watch -- so you have no excuse.)
My grade: A