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E1 Austin American-Statesman Thursday, December 20, 1979 Ml i-'i fin nil i II II mi I MMwtH! ijUHH WL 1 1 wiwihUt wWi giving at a great low price for Christmas Pustin Hoffman pleads With his wife, Meryl Streep, to reconsider her decision to leave him and their young soa SANSUI SELECT SYSTEM 30 Select System 30 Includes: Sansui R-30 AMFM Stereo Receiver 25 watts per channel, Kramer vs. Kramer' n.n.i.i.iini pay hr. Ijt y.Movie presents a brutal subject in a touching way review riVli ill no more than 0.09 thd Sansui SR-B200S Automatic Return Belt-Drive Turntable 1 OV i um vis i ll -A f- ii 1Wfrlfti'Bfi A inn il it mm nminiii iiihi I Wl iniiiiinl in.llllil Sansui SPA-1700 2-Way Bass Reflex Speakers Sansui GX-60 Audio Cabinet with Glass Door Optional Sansui D-90 i Front-Loading Stereo Cassette Deck special $1 54.90. Components May Be Purchased Separately I By PATRICK TAGGART American-Statesman Staff There are a few things that human beings sometimes engage In child custody lights for instance that make us wonder if maybe the universe is on a tilt, if maybe there isn't something basically, wrenchingly wrong with the way society has shaped itself, It's an ugly, often brutal business, this fighting by divorced parents over who will take charge of their children. It goes like this: Two adults engage highly-paid lawyers to annihilate each other's character on the witness stand while the child becomes a fragile rope in a cruel, psychologically ravaging tug of war.
It sounds terrible, and it is, but Robert Benton's film dealing with the subject, "Kramer vs. Kramer," is a thing of beauty. Benton, the Texas- born former art director at Esquire and director of "The Late Show," has taken this nasty subject and put it in the center of a movie that is funny, believable, sad, warming and hopeful. Not bad for a Waxahachle boy. BENTON'S EXCELLENT SCRIPT and his intrinsic good sense as a director probably would have netted him a fine film regardless of the star, but Dustln Hoffman gives his part, that of husband, father and ad agency man Ted Kramer, an added intensity.
At the beginning of the film Kramer is getting good news from his boss about a possible promotion while his wife is at home packing bags. She is about to leave not just him, but their 7-year-old son as well. A good film could have been made merely of Hoffman's growing into the role of total parent, of making the commitment to son over career. And toward this end, Benton fashioned a couple of very funny sequences, one Involving the preparation of breakfast, the other on Kramer's attempt to have a social life. BUT JOANNA KRAMER, played magnificently by that Imperfect beauty Meryl Streep, changes -her mind.
After more than a year she returns to New York, where for two months she stands like a ghost in a coffeeshop window, watching her son go to school each morning. Naturally, she wants the kid. An enraged Kramer hires a hot-shot lawyer (another great mm p) MMMMMMH VISA 1 AUSTIN: 2020 W. Anderson Lane 454-5161 Monday through Saturday 10 AM-9 PM Hi Dustin Hoffman with Justin Henry performance, this one by Howard Duff) to handle his all but hopeless case. In New York as in Texas, the woman wins so long as she does not proposition the judge.
The courtroom scenes are mean and realistic without being the least bit sensational or exploitive. Benton's dialogue is idiomatic wherever his characters are, from kitchen to courtroom. IF THE FILM has any flaw it is in its occasional flirtation with maudlin sentiment. The lawyers and the judges are about the only characters who don't cry. But it is the only false note in what surely willte remembered as one of the best films of the year.
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