Robert Benton's moving and well-observed adaptation of Avery Corman's novel about the aftermath of divorce stars Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep as the separating couple, Ted and Joanna Kramer. When dutiful wife and mother Joanna decides to leave Ted, an advertising executive, she also leaves him with the responsibility of caring for their young son, Billy (Justin Henry). The situation proves to be especially difficult since the workaholic father has never really taken care of the boy and, in truth, barely knows him. Things are rough at first, but as the two become accustomed to life without Joanna and Ted's caretaking skills improve, father and son finally develop a relationship. As Ted devotes more time to his son and less to his work, however, the latter suffers, and Ted's subsequent firing coincides with the return of Joanna, who wants her son back.
Despite the titular framing of a custody trial, KRAMER VS. KRAMER steps lightly around the complex issue, essentially concerning itself with the father's discovery of the joys and travails of being a parent. Hoffman and Streep turn in exceptional Academy Award-winning performances, and Benton crafts a memorable exploration of parenthood by wisely focusing on the tiny dramas of everyday life--such as the classic, heartbreaking scene in which Ted, on his first morning as a single father, tries (and miserably fails) to make french toast for his son--to capture the essence of a precious relationship.
Academy Awards Best Picture 1979
Academy Awards Best Actor 1979 Dustin Hoffman American actor
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress 1979 Meryl Streep American Actress
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1979 Robert Benton American director/screenwriter
Academy Awards Best Director 1979 Robert Benton American director/screenwriter