Kramer vs. Kramer is a perceptive, touching, intelligent film about one of the raw sores of contemporary America, the dissolution of the family unit. In refashioning Avery Corman’s novel, director-scripter Robert Benton has used a highly effective technique of short, poignant scenes to bring home the message that no one escapes unscarred from the trauma of separation.
It is in the latter arena that Kramer takes place, as Meryl Streep breaks with up-and-coming ad exec Dustin Hoffman and tyke Justin Henry to find her own role in life. Hoffman is thus left with a six-year-old son and begins a process of ‘parenting’ that is both humorous and affecting. Three-quarters into the film, Streep comes to claim her first-born with the traditional mother’s prerogative and a nasty court battle ensues.
1979: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Supp. Actress (Meryl Streep), Adapted Screenplay.
Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (Justin Henry), Supp. Actress (Jane Alexander), Cinematography, Editing