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 While the argument in the film seems outdated, it's not.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.
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.
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander
Director: Richard Benton