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.
A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
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
In various scenes where Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell's characters are meeting in the jail, the Sprite that Hilary drinks from has the new logo from 2005 consisting of two yellow and green "halves" forming an "S" lemon/lime design. This logo had not yet been created during the implied times of these scenes. See more »
Loyalty: It something we all expect from our loved ones, but we so rarely receive. How loyal would our families be if we were convicted of a crime we were innocent of and sent to prison for the rest of lives? Would they put all their worldly desires away to do everything in their power to see to our injustice? I dare say that I know that it takes a special few that have such perseverance or such conviction.
Hilary Swank stars in the film so aptly titled Conviction. Here again Swank portrays the real-life Betty Ann Waters. Betty Ann's brother, Kenny was convicted of a violent murder in their home town in Massachusetts and sent to prison in 1983. Betty Ann and Kenny grew up in a dysfunctional home and were tossed around to a plethora of foster homes during their childhood and adolescence. The only family they had was each other. Their relationship was so close and intimate that there was no doubt in her mind that her brother was incapable of murder. Kenny was a self-admitted bad boy. He had been arrested so many times in their small community that when Kenny's neighbor turned up murdered it seemed to be an easy assumption that Kenny was the perpetrator of the crime.
Betty Ann had no money for high-paid lawyers and when Kenny tries to kill himself in prison, she came up with a solution to their problem. She will go to college, then law school and then become a lawyer and find the evidence to set her brother free. This sound like a plot made-up in a studio office, but it is the true story of this amazing woman. And, there would be no movie, if Betty Ann's astounding story didn't have a happy ending.
Telling this story is difficult. But the even script by Pamela Gray provides a good point of departure for Tony Goldwyn's direction and the moving performances by the actors. Without hesitation, Hilary Swank is definitely back, her disappointing performance as Amelia Earhart last year could have ended her trip down the red carpet to win Oscar gold forever. Her performance playing Betty Ann is subtle and convincing. But it's not just Hilary Swank's performance that should be noted. Sam Rockwell's portrayal of Kenny Waters is amazing and heart-wrenching. His scenes in prison are remarkable as he so effortlessly depicts the wide range of emotions from complete hopelessness when years of imprisonment wear on him to utter joy when he learns that his sister has done the impossible. And lastly, Minnie Driver makes a great impression playing Betty Ann's law school friend. It's a role that could garner attention at award time, and hopefully will lead to more roles in the future.
Conviction is one of the best films of the year. Its story of never-ending loyalty and love of a sister. It is inspirational and uplifting. This film will make you believe again, that with desire, perseverance and the conviction to never stop trying, almost anything is possible.
For more reviews and news written by Kay Shackleton, see here: www.examiner.com/movie-awards-in-national
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