Joanna Kramer, played by Meryl Streep, yearns to do more with her life than be someone’s wife, someone’s mother. She has a desire to find her calling and work. So she leaves her husband and seven-year-old son, Billy, played by Justin Henry.
Husband Ted Kramer, played by Dustin Hoffman, must find a way to move away from being a workaholic and also be a dad to his son. The ensuing relationship they form is very strong and moving.
Eventually, Joanna returns and wants her son back to herself and begins a court case battle for custody of Billy. She says she believes she, as the mother, is the most fit and best for Billy. But Ted fights against Billy being taken from him, from his home. The ensuing court case is a great dramatic scene. I won’t give away the ending or who wins the court case, but I truly encourage you to watch the movie to find out and to watch the amazing acting of younger versions of Hoffman, Streep and Henry.
Kramer vs. Kramer is as much about divorce as it is about finding your priorities, as it is about learning to be as good a parent as you can be, as it is about learning to take time for your child and truly listen to him. It’s about learning that not every accident is your fault, as a parent, and that when parents divorce the child usually blames himself or herself, which must be remedied by making sure the child is told it is not his fault. Hoffman as Ted does his best to let his son know it was his own fault that his wife left him.