By Luciana Leitão
Workaholic Ted Kramer comes home to find that his wife had left him alone with his son Billy. The estranged couple later fights for custody in court opening up wounds which were fast asleep. Kramer versus Kramer, by Robert Benton, is a deep portrait of what goes on every day with many different people. And despite dating back to 1979, it could easily have been released today.
The film opens with Joanna’s abandonment, but continues with Ted and Billy’s growing relationship. Ted is forced to rethink his life options, becoming less obsessed by work and more focused on his son. Both get closer and closer as the film moves on, until Joanna reappears, wishing to regain custody of her son. They then move on to an ugly custody battle, which opens up wounds and leads into mutual accusations, which none was ready to face.
Kramer versus Kramer is one of those classic cinema stories that has gained immortality for featuring a topic, relatively new at the time, but that is very much up to date. The actors, of course, helped the film reach such statute. Ted Kramer is played by the amazing Dustin Hoffman and Joanna is played by the iconic Meryl Streep. But, having seen the film once again just this week, I have to say that the son Billy also has a major part in the film’s fame. It was played by young Justin Henry, who actually was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor, for his amazing job as Billy. He was believable, cute, funny and aggressive, at the same time. Not an easy task for such a young boy.
Kramer versus Kramer is especially good, also because it clearly shows there are no good and bad ones in this kind of situations. I felt as much empathy by Ted as by Joanna, managing to feel each other’s pain. Also, humour once in a while, throughout the film, helps lift off the black cloud always wandering around and lightens up a bit of the mood.
It’s a story of choices. It’s a story that makes us thing about our own choices. And does so, today, in 2016, despite dating back to 1979. It definitely is one of the greatest films of all times.