Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1979. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Stanley Jaffe Production. Screenplay by Robert Benton, based on the novel by Avery Corman. Cinematography by Nestor Almendros. Produced by Stanley R. Jaffe. Production Design by Paul Sylbert. Costume Design by Ruth Morley. Film Editing by Gerald B. Greenberg.
Meryl Streep decides she can no longer stand the confines of her life and leaves her son (Justin Henry) and husband (Dustin Hoffman). Hoffman’s life is thrown for a loop as he has to resurrect his flagging advertising career and become a full-time parent with very little help except for a kindly neighbour (Jane Alexander) who was also close with his wife. Soon, however, he catches on to the rhythm of things and discovers a new relationship with his son that he never had before, all of which threatens to be taken away when Streep returns and announces that she is housed and employed and wants Henry to come and live with her. The court case that ensues is the nail-biting conclusion to this satisfying and honest film that never makes a false move and is memorable for some very real performances. Credit director Robert Benton, whose love of collaboration led him to invite screenplay input from the other actors (Streep wrote her own speech in the witness stand, as she felt the original script was too biased against her character’s motivations), and as a result the film intelligently avoids picking sides and feels incredibly honest.
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman); Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep); Best Director (Robert Benton); Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Justin Henry); Best Supporting Actress (Jane Alexander); Best Cinematography; Best Film Editing
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Dustin Hoffman); Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep); Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Justin Henry); Best Supporting Actress (Jane Alexander); Best Director (Robert Benton)