....was one of my big faves, at least at one time
9 April 2017
Time was, 35 years ago, when I rated this as my third-favorite movie of all time. I'd watched it a total of three times, thought Hoffman's performance was the greatest, and much later bought a Beta copy of it. Of course, in '79 I'd seen very, very few movies then; I'd be familiarized with the historical classics in a film class several months later.

I watched that Beta tape once, and never felt a need to see it again. And it's rather astonishing how far down this critically hailed film's reputation has gone. For its time, it marked the emergence of a new male image: the non-macho man of the 80s who feels free to display some normally female traits, like sensitivity and shopping and seeing his child to and from school safely. As well as trials and tribulations of single parenthood. Well, that redefinition of masculinity almost immediately went out the window with the election of a new president. Testosterone and T-bone steaks still reigned supreme, and the epithet "wimp" came back stronger than ever.

I still remember my second viewing of this movie, just shortly out of the theaters and available to the 16-millimeter student cinema groups at universities everywhere. The audience was booing and hissing Streep's character when she came back to claim hers and Hoffman's child, and particularly during the climactic courtroom scene. They saw her as the heavy who just up and abandoned her family. Not that I found this especially revolting, but this viewing experience was unanticipated.

I saw it again just two weeks ago with my folks; my father tuned it in about a quarter of the way into the film. It still flowed beautifully right through to the end, and it seemed an utterly magnificent three-fourth's of a movie. I'd love to watch it again, complete of course; just not right now.
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