A working mother puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders.
Betty Anne Waters (Swank) is a high school dropout who spent nearly two decades working as a single mother while putting herself through law school, tirelessly trying to beat the system and overturn her brother's (Rockwell) unjust murder conviction. Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Screenwriter Pamela Gray says she doesn't believe the awards or critics; she knows if her projects are well received by listening in the theater ladies' room after a showing. See more »
At one point Betty Anne Waters Hilary Swank tells Kenny Sam Rockwell that it's a good thing Massachusetts doesn't have the death penalty or he could already be dead. This however is incorrect. Massachusetts still had the death penalty in 1983, when Kenny was convicted. It was abolished the following year in 1984. See more »
Written by Doug Fieger (as Douglas Fieger) and Berton Averre
Performed by Andrew Fairgrieve, Robert Piela, Hunter Dixon & Chris Fichter
Licensed by Arrangement with Wise Brothers Music LLC (ASCAP), Eighties Music (ASCAP) and Small Hill Music (ASCAP) See more »
A simple, dramatic story told well through emotional performances
"Conviction" is a simple, dramatic story, told well. Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) puts herself through law school for the sole effort of freeing her innocent brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) from a life-sentence in prison for murder. Swank and Rockwell both carry this emotional film on their very strong shoulders.
There are very few courtroom scenes, very few law school scenes, but it is filled with emotional connections between brother and sister as she visits him in prison, and as she tries living her own life. The characters dominate the beginning of the film, and the steps Swank has to take to free Rockwell keeps the film going towards the end.
It is shot well, as this is clearly Massachusetts and it set the right feelings for the film without overpowering it. The highlights are Swank and Rockwell as they both play characters with elements that we have seen before that have given Swank Oscar wins and have given Rockwell popularity. Here, he has toned down his comic antics just enough for his performance to remain popular but should also give him his first Oscar nomination.
The story may be missing a few elements that would have given it more substance to make it more interesting, but it seems to me, that's because the film-makers had a few restrictions in keeping to the true story. This may actually be a true story and not just based on one.
I recommend "Conviction" for its emotional performances and for telling its simple story well.
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