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.


Tony Goldwyn


Pamela Gray
9 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Hilary Swank ... Betty Anne Waters
Sam Rockwell ... Kenny Waters
Thomas D. Mahard ... Law Professor (as Thomas Mahard)
Owen Campbell ... Ben
Conor Donovan ... Richard
Laurie Brown ... Law Professor 2
John Pyper-Ferguson ... Aidan
Minnie Driver ... Abra Rice
Ele Bardha ... Don
Melissa Leo ... Nancy Taylor
Rusty Mewha Rusty Mewha ... Desk Sergeant
Marc Macaulay ... Officer Boisseau
Bailee Madison ... Young Betty Anne
Tobias Campbell ... Young Kenny
Frank Zieger Frank Zieger ... Boyfriend


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The incredible true story of Betty Anne Waters See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The movie was nearly 10 years in development. 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 »


Betty Anne Waters: [after hearing that his brother was convicted] We'll appeal, Kenny! We'll get you out!
See more »


Whiskey in the Jar
Public Domain
Performed by Chris Hewitt and David Bagnall
See more »

User Reviews

good performances
26 June 2013 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

"Conviction" stars Hillary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher, and Juliette Lewis in the true-life story of Betty Anne Waters, who becomes an attorney in order to free her brother Kenny of a wrongful murder conviction.

I saw Betty Anne profiled some time ago -- back then, I think she was still in law school.

Kenny Waters is convicted of the murder of Katharina Brow (since she was German, I assume the original last name was Brau) who was viciously knifed in her home. The crime occurred in 1980, when there was no DNA testing, and Kenny had the same blood type as the perpetrator. Several witnesses, including Kenny's wife and ex-girlfriend, testify against him.

Betty Anne, a mother with two children, makes the decision to go to law school in order to free her brother. At that time, she doesn't even have her GED. She comes up against wall after wall, gets divorced, and her children, probably more to help her than anything else, finally go to live with their father. She moonlights running a bar.

Betty Anne contacts Barry Scheck (Gallagher) of the Innocence Project to enlist his group's help. Scheck needs evidence -- by then, it's been about 15 years since Kenny's conviction.

This is a powerful story because it shows, again, what the determination of one person can achieve, and how his or her passion can inspire others to help.

Hillary Swank is a gifted actress, and it's a shame that she hasn't gotten more roles like she had in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby. She's natural but intense as Betty Anne, and she can really pull at the heartstrings. Sam Rockwell as Kenny does a wonderful job, and the two have great chemistry together. You could feel his hopelessness, and his fear of being let down.

Everyone is good in this film, with Juliette Lewis as an ex-girlfriend and Melissa Leo as policewoman Nancy Taylor standouts.

The problem I have with this film is that, strip the movie of Hillary Swank and you've got a Lifetime movie. It just doesn't come off like a feature film in the way the story is told or in its focus. It's just a little bit left of cloying. Also, note to writers -- Kenny wasn't in jail, he was in prison. There's a difference.

Despite this, it's a wonderful story, all the more dramatic because it's true. And you can't get enough of its message: One person can make a difference.

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Official Sites:

Official site


Switzerland | UK | USA



Release Date:

5 November 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Betty Anne Waters See more »

Filming Locations:

Michigan, USA See more »


Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$102,351, 17 October 2010

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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