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Kramer vs Kramer

I just finished reading Mindy Kaling's book a couple of days ago, and there was this sentence about marriage that her mother told her. Paraphrasing her words, she said that when one person is unhappy in a marriage, it means that they are both unhappy, but the other hasn't realized it just yet. It reminded me that I still have to write my review for this film - hence, my babbling. Kramer VS Kramer moves within a simple lining - it is about the failure of Ted and Joanna's marriage, and the good and ugly bits that go with it. It's a simple film, yet it tells a rich story.

The film can easily be divided into two: the immediate aftermath of the separation and the bloodbath that comes with it. Ted was portrayed to be a workaholic, and when Joanna left him with their son, he had to step up to become both parents for him. The first half shows how Ted emerged to the challenge, and how the situation has led for him to becoming a better parent in his standards. However, it's in the latter half that we get to put a story between the couple, where we meet Ted and Joanna as individuals.

Their personality and characteristics are thrown in the custody battle, where Joanna wanted to claim her child, since she is now back in the city. That's when we really meet the Ted that was disguised as a parent. In terms of the custody battle, I didn't find it difficult to root for Ted simply because Joanna was a flight risk, and I believe that a child should grow in a stable environment. However, the movie allows us to feel sympathy for Joanna's plight. Ted has enclosed her in what he believed a woman should be and should do. In caging Joanna to her female responsibilities, he has hindered her growth, and her happiness. In the world today, there are still some women who are submissive to their husband's whim and are part of the stereotype. Yet, the world is now more open to independent women, and more often than not, there are more women exerting their independence. While the argument in the film seems outdated, it's not. The story as a whole is timeless, because not only does it discuss the importance of independence, but it allows for the switch of roles to be more generally accepted. In movies, it's usually portrayed that if a father is a single parent, the mother has presumably passed away and everything is still the way it was. Also, it's usually the men who leave the women and their children. Kramer vs Kramer allows the challenge to be tackled from the male perspective - from being left by a spouse to raising a child in the aftermath. 

The film makes a good discussion point about marriage and all that, but seeing as I am neither married nor divorced, I'm not as well-versed to argue further (plus, it's more productive if I'm discussing said views with other people, to get the discussion going), so I'm going to leave it at that. Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep have both given powerful performances. It became difficult to side firmly with one of them because their characters have a lot of history embedded in them that you understand where they're coming from. It's not hard to be moved by their tears, or their happiness, or their fears, as the film plays different situations that adhere grand emotions. From the playground accident, to finally seeing her son, to the possibility that he might lose custody - the film never paved way for idleness in their lives. Life moves forward, whether it be for the better or for the worst. 

Looking back, divorce was never really the subject of the film, but the surrounding factors that affect the change of their relationship. A tale coupled by great and heartfelt performances, it can't be helped but to feel and be moved by the characters. 




Final Word: It features powerful performances from the leads, making their awards worth winning.

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander
Director: Richard Benton
Year: 1979

Comments

  1. Some real heartbreaking stuff here. I could imagine how one would feel watching this, had their parents divorced, but as for me, it still hit me like a ton of bricks. Good review.

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