Kramer vs. Kramer

Thursday, May 12

Director Robert Benton in person for Q&A with Meryl Streep biographer Michael Schulman!

“KRAMER vs. KRAMER wouldn’t be half as good as it is — half as intriguing and absorbing — if the movie had taken sides. The movie’s about a situation rich in opportunities for choosing up sides: a divorce and a fight for the custody of a child But what matters in a story like this (in the movies and in real life, too) isn’t who’s right or wrong, but if the people involved are able to behave according to their own better nature. Isn’t it so often the case that we’re selfish and mean-spirited in just those tricky human situations that require our limited stores of saintliness?…

“The movie stars Dustin Hoffman as a workaholic advertising executive whose thoughts are almost entirely centered around his new account — so much so that when he comes home and his wife announces she’s walking out on their marriage, he hardly hears her and doesn’t really take her seriously. But his wife (Meryl Streep) is walking out. She needs time to find herself, she says; to discover the unrealized person she left behind when she went into the marriage…

“Meryl Streep has certainly been having quite a year, and has appeared in what seems like half the year’s best female roles (so far she’s been in The Deer Hunter, The Seduction of Joe Tynan and Manhattan, and Holocaust on TV). In “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Benton asked her to state her character’s own case in the big scene where she argues for her child from the witness stand. She is persuasive, but then so is Jane Alexander, who plays her best friend, and whose character is a bystander and witness as Hoffman slowly learns how to be a father.

“This is an important movie for Robert Benton, who co-wrote Bonnie and Clyde and also wrote and directed Bad Company and The Late Show. He spends a great deal of attention on the nuances of dialog: His characters aren’t just talking to each other, they’re revealing things about themselves and can sometimes be seen in the act of learning about their own motives. That’s what makes KRAMER vs. KRAMER such a touching film: We get the feeling at times that personalities are changing and decisions are being made even as we watch them.” – Roger Ebert


Part of the series “Becoming Meryl Streep”