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Kramer vs. Kramer by Robert Benton Film Analsysi Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: May 13th, 2020

The film Kramer vs. Kramer throws light on the experiences of people who pass through a divorce. This cinematographic work can certainly be praised for the excellent performance of Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Strip, and other actors. Additionally, this movie can be used to discuss the functioning of the American legal system. Overall, one can say that this film makes the audience empathize with the major characters, but at some points, this movie lacks authenticity. In particular, the authors do not enable the viewers to look through the eyes of Joanne Kramer, whose inner world is not sufficiently described. Secondly, this work can misrepresent how legal professionals act when resolving conflicts between parents. These are the main issues that should be examined in greater detail.

The plot of the film revolves around a family couple, Ted and Joanne as well as their child Billy. It should be kept in mind that Ted is a top executive who places much emphasis on his career and promotion. Joanna leaves her husband without fully explaining the reasons for this decision (Kramer vs. Kramer). Later, she returns and tries to get Billy back, while Ted rejects this claim. This conflict gives rise to the custody trial. Both characters are forced to confront bitter accusations. The dispute comes to the point when Billy has to testify in the court. In his turn, Ted does not want his son to be exposed to this stress; so, he lets Joanne take custody of the child (Kramer vs. Kramer). However, Joanne eventually decides that it would be better for Billy to be with Ted. These are the main elements of the plot. The movie does not show how the relations between the characters will evolve in the future.

At this point, it is necessary to discuss this film from a legal perspective. One can argue that this film cannot give viewers an accurate idea about the legal issues that judges consider when dealing with custody trials. For instance, according to this movie, legal professionals prefer to favor women during such trials. The key issue is that in the modern courts, judges focus on the personal and professional background of both parents while deciding which of the parents should become the legal guardian of a child. They do not necessarily think that children can be better raised by their mothers. So, one should not suppose that this stereotypical thinking affects the work of modern judges or other legal professionals. This is one of the aspects that can be singled out.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the actions of attorneys. For instance, one can mention the character, named John Shaunessy, who represents Ted’s views on the court. This person does not mention the possibility of mediation or family therapy. These are some of the alternatives that modern lawyers suggest to resolve possible disputes (Schepard 108). Under such circumstances, the main priority of these professionals is the well-being of a child; this is why they often urge parents to reach a compromise (Schepard 108). These are some of the inaccuracies that should not be overlooked because the authors of this film can distort factual information in an effort to create tensions that can impress the audience.

To a great extent, this film depicts the legal system as a ruthless and even soulless machine that does not attach much importance to the feelings of people or their privacy. Certainly, there are some negative aspects that one cannot disregard. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about the so-called character assassinations that are aimed at negatively depicting conflicting sides. This behavior of lawyers adversely affects both Joanne and Ted. This problem is eloquently described in this movie. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that this is the only way in which parental conflicts are resolved by lawyers. This is one of the points that can be made.

On the whole, this film produces a strong impression on the viewers since the leading actors can portray the family in a very authentic way. For example, much attention should be paid to the experiences of Billy, who is forced to choose between his parents. This character is portrayed by Justin Henry, who can depict a child’s sense of uncertainty. His performance makes people remember about the negative impacts of conflicts between parents. In turn, the performance of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Strip is also very impressive. These performers can show how family couples can pass through a divorce. They demonstrate how difficult it is for people to put oneself in the position of one another. Therefore, it is possible to say that acting is probably the greatest strength of this movie. This is one of the reasons why this film remains so popular for a long time.

However, some things cannot be overlooked. In particular, one should focus on how Joanne is depicted. The main issue is that this person cannot clearly explain the motives for her actions. For instance, she cannot fully explain why she leaves the family. In particular, she says, “You just married the wrong person” (Kramer vs. Kramer). Under such circumstances, people are usually more willing to express their discontent. At first glance, it seems that her decision is utterly unexpected.

Nevertheless, in many cases, the separation of couples is preceded by a great number of minor conflicts or disagreements. Therefore, the film-makers do not pay much attention to this issue. Similarly, it is not clear why she decides to initiate a custody trial but eventually agrees to leave Billy with Ted. To some degree, she can be described as a very inconsistent person who is driven by conflicting motives. However, this portrayal is very biased, and it immediately makes people side with Ted. Secondly, the film-makers do not prompt readers to think about the origins of her conflict with Ted. They do not emphasize the idea that he could also contribute to this conflict. So, this movie lacks important details that can increase its authenticity. This is one of the points that can be made.

Overall, the film Kramer vs. Kramer is an excellent cinematographic work that can strongly engage the audience. Nevertheless, one should critically assess the authenticity of this movie. The discussions examined in this paper indicate that the movie can give viewers a distorted idea about the functioning of American courts. More importantly, the film leaves several questions unanswered. In this case, much attention should be paid to Joanne’s behavior and her inner world since these issues are not fully explored. Nevertheless, despite these limitations, this cinematographic work is still worth attention because it can prompt viewers to consider many thought-provoking questions.

Works Cited

Kramer vs. Kramer. Ex. Prod. Richard Fischoff. New York: Columbia Pictures, 1979.DVD.

Schepard, Andrew. “Kramer vs. Kramer Revisited: A Comment on The Miller Commission Report and the Obligation of Divorce Lawyers for Parents to Discuss Alternative Dispute Resolution with Their Clients.” Pace Law Review 27.4. (2004): 101-132. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Kramer vs. Kramer by Robert Benton Film Analsysi." May 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kramer-vs-kramer-by-robert-benton-film-analsysi/.


IvyPanda. "Kramer vs. Kramer by Robert Benton Film Analsysi." May 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kramer-vs-kramer-by-robert-benton-film-analsysi/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Kramer vs. Kramer by Robert Benton Film Analsysi." May 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kramer-vs-kramer-by-robert-benton-film-analsysi/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Kramer vs. Kramer by Robert Benton Film Analsysi'. 13 May.

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