Robert Benton directs Dustin Hoffman, Justin Henry and Meryl Streep in this relationship drama about a career focussed husband forced to care for his son alone when his wife leaves them.
I’m a big fan of Dustin Hoffman. More often than not he plays characters so intensely revulsed by everyday modern life that he can barely keep his sanity as he clings to the far edges of existence. So watching him dominate the screen as a relatively normal, growing, if frazzled, person is a rare gift. His is a grand performance, emphasised by the last few scenes, symmetrical to the first act where we get to see how much he has adapted to being an engaged father. Enforced as that development maybe. Sadly the narrative is a loaded dice, demonising Streep’s runaway mommy as selfish until the last and keeping her off screen for a ridiculous, unbalanced swathe of the running time. It really should be called Kramer Vs Absence. The resulting film, acting showcase aside, becomes quite miserable. The stakes only read as tangible in a gripping sequence where Hoffman’s beleaguered ad man has to find a new job in 24 hours before Madison Avenue shutters up for Christmas.
My Top Ten Dustin Hoffman Movies
10. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)