We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"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?
"Kramer vs. Kramer" is about just such a situation. It begins with a marriage filled with a lot of unhappiness, ego and selfishness, and ends with two single people who have both learned important things about the ways they want to behave. There is a child caught in the middle -- their first-grader, Billy -- but this isn't a movie about the plight of the kid but about the plight of the parents.
Hollywood has traditionally approached stories like this from the child's point of view, showing him unhappy and neglected by the grownups -- but what if the grownups aren't really grown up? What about a family in which everybody is still basically a kid crying for attention and searching for identity?
That's the case here. 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.