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 »
While Swank and Rockwell are talking in the prison visiting room, the voices of their characters remain clear, unobstructed, and loud, despite camera angles changing to long shots, through windows, and from behind at a distance. Normally in editing, there is an attempt to mimic how the sound would be received by the viewer if they were in the camera's position, such as when music playing on a car stereo decreases and is muffled when heard from someone outside versus inside the car. See more »
There are major problems with this film, both regarding accuracy and dramatic tension, among which are: 1)for the film to work we must believe that the accused is not guilty,, and 2) we must understand why his sister felt a need to become a lawyer to save him. The film does not develop either point successfully and thus fails totally. first of all, the accused is presented as a loser, and a violent one at that, with little in the way of redeeming features, with an inferred motive and no showing of alibi. There is no coherent reason given on why his two wives/girlfriends would both accuse him. Even more important, why did his sister believe him to be not guilty, other than because he was her brother. As it turns out, from the facts of the case, there was more evidence, not presented in the movie, that would have convicted the guy, not the least of which he had in his possession a piece of jewelry belonging to the murdered woman, and had vowed to kill her. He was also shown to be even more violent than presented, having recently committed and been convicted of other violent crime. The brutality of the murder strongly suggests someone with a motive, and no showing of anyone else with such motive other than the accused. The film shows recantations by his partners, but the record does not support that this occurred. Even if it did, such recantations are problematic from people close to the accused years after the fact. As to his sister's commitment to becoming a lawyer, this status did not really affect the case. Anyone could have pushed for the DNA evidence and located it and I question if the dramatic presentation really occurred. Even if it did, it might have been cheaper to hire a lawyer than to spend 3 years at law school. Finally, the DNA did not, i repeat, did not, mean he was innocent. It merely meant that the DNA found was not his, according to the test. Even if we assume the test was correct, it might have been that of an accomplice. The DA was willing to retry, but politics got in the way. I doubt that the vicious portrayal of the attorney general was accurate either. Finally, since this guy killed himself six months after he was released, which the movie also conveniently fails to mention, this is suggestive that maybe he knew who the killer was, and he decided to do away with him. Also any portrayal of Barry Scheck as a hero is disquieting since I remember quite well his disgusting performance defending OJ Simpson and trying to convince the dimwits on the jury that the blood evidence and DNA was contaminated or that the police framed OJ. Oh sure!
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