Thursday, 21 March 2013

Kramer Vs Kramer


Hi guys! I'm very much back from my hiatus. I had my exam week which was very stressful, and I also had that monologue acting competition that I was talking about in my last post... Guess what guys. I WON!!!!! Yay! I was so thrilled. Learned from this experience: I would be so bad at oscar acceptance speeches. They called my name as the winner and I went, "ME?" then skipped up to get my award, smiled like a doofus and gave the audience the thumbs up as they clapped me. Sophisticated I know. Anyway, that's my exciting news. But aside from that, I am socked to announce that the era of films I usually watch has recently been extended to include movies from the 1970s through the 80s. Guess who you have to thank for that? MERYL STREEP. Hope you guys wont mind too much... Anyhow, here's Kramer Vs Kramer.

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"Jeff, I'm leaving you," is what Jeff Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is greeted by one day he returns from work. He's just been assigned the most important advertising account of his career. His wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) packed her bags and left him and their young child.


Jeff is left to cope with his son, Billy (Justin Henry), who he's never had time for (he never had time for his wife, either.) It's extremely difficult at first, but they manage to bond together over their mutual loss of their wife/mother. Jeff becomes Billy's mother, father, best friend and protector. But their whole life is thrown off balance when Joanna comes back asking for custody of her child.


Therein starts a court case which delves deep into the emotional traumas that caused the breakup, and a ferocious fight over who has more of a right to Billy. Joanna gives an extremely emotional and heart-wrenching testimony, and so does Jeff. It looks neck in neck. Who will win custody of Billy?

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This is a very special film that spends an awful lot of time exploring relationships. It doesn't need a fast paced plot all the time, the actors carry this expertly. Robert Benton, the director and adaptor, had a difficult time convincing Dustin Hoffman to do this film. Dustin was going through a divorce at the time and he felt the original novel and screenplay didn't deal sensitively enough with the subject matter. So they came up with a solution. Get Dustin to write the script with them.


The direction is beautiful. Raw, but still beautiful. Meryl Streep claims he was a very easy going director who very much let the creative juices of the actors flow. She compared it to the directing style of Woody Allan (she was working on Manhattan, 1979, an Kramer Vs Kramer simultaneously) who would stop her mid-take and say "Meryl... There's, there's a comma... in the middle of that sentence." Meryl replied, "Yes?" "Why don't you use it?" Allan said.

Dustin Hoffman is wonderful in this film. He's very sensitive, which is something I don't usually find him. He really is an extremely instinctive actor. However, sometimes this "instinctive-ness" and "improvisation" went a little too far. There are all sorts of stories or Dustin slapping Meryl streep before takes to get her to be cross with him and Dustin smashing glasses in scenes without telling anyone.

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Such a method actor. Apparently, though, he really genuinely was angry and disliked Meryl Streep. I mean, you can see it from this picture.


Meryl Streep is fantastic as Joanna. Her court scene is one of the most moving scenes I've ever seen. I'm sorry I just can't deal. Also, the way she is with Justin Henry is the sweetest thing ever. Also I need hair like that now. It's amazing. Oh my god. Seriously, It's my goal. But I really think she's now definitely on my favourites list. She's an incredible actress. Yay Meryl!!!

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These two are backed by a fabulous supporting cast. Justin Henry who plays Billy is one of the best child actors I've ever seen. So "instinctive" and emotional. Gotta love him. Especially in the famous ice-cream scene.

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Also very good is Jane Alexander, the recently divorced neighbour of Jeff and Joanna. It's not an easy part to play without it seeming self-righteous and she does a great - and humorous - job. Though, she lost out on an academy award for best supporting actress to Meryl Streep for her performance as Joanna. In all honesty there was no-one else that award could possibly have gone to.

All in all, I loved this film. Can't really think of any negatives. Watch it!

Bette

9 comments:

Rianna said...

So coincidentally I just watched this last weekend. I loved it too, of course. Early era Meryl is my fave. ;)

Vienna said...

I love it too. You. must see Meryl's FALLING IN LOVE with Robert de Niro.

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Margaret Perry said...

As most people know, I'm not really a Streep Fan (http://margaretperry.org/a-word-about-meryl-streep/) and I really didn't like her in this film. She's just such a baby! I like Dustin Hoffman a lot - "instinctive" is a great word to describe his acting style. I like how this was really the first film to show divorce and parenthood from the dad's perspective, though he really should have found time to spend with his son before he was literally forced to because his wife left. Thanks for posting this!

Bette said...

Vienna, that's on my list! OMG I've watched quite a few recently, Sophie's Choice, This, Silkwood, Out Of Africa, Heartburn... Thanks for the rec!
Margaret! Oh no! We seem to part ways on Meryl Streep :( Oh well. we agree about just about everything else ever so whatever :D Yes, I think dustin is a great actor.

Sofia said...

Meryl Streep is so effortlessly graceful, no matter what she wears or does. I love her early films, they're timeless.

Silver Screenings said...

Very moving film - so well done.

And congrats on winning the competition!!

jersaout said...

Classic and my eyes out watching Kramer vs Kramer

Anonymous said...

I think Meryl Streep is a fabulous actress, but I didn't like her in this movie because I just didn't like the character. I did not like Joanna Kramer. I remember years ago talking with a friend (back in early 80's) who said she was never going to watch Meryl Streep in a movie again because she hated Joanna Kramer. I hope my friend has relented because Meryl Streep is such a great actress, and has played so many different roles wonderfully.

Sarah Flick said...

This movie is a must see. Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman are amazing.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. It makes me happy to see people are interested in my posts!

~Bette