Conviction (2010)

When her brother is wrongfully convicted of murder, stalwart sister Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) sets about getting him out of prison. Leaving the car-chases to Russell Crowe, Waters instead turns to university to work her way through law school until she is qualified to take on her brothers case (the next three days? Pah – try eighteen years!). Struggling to raise a family, earn money and find the time to study, Betty Anne finds a friend in fellow mature student Abra Rice (Minnie Driver), the two undergraduates working together to free the innocence of Kenny (Sam Rockwell).

I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Conviction, judging from the trailer alone it looked like a spreadsheet; a compilation of boxes waiting to be ticked by director Tony Goldwyn and his Million Dollar Baby. Had it aired as a documentary, I might have let it play out over dinner – but I didn’t feel it had earnt my time. Having seen it, I still remain resolutely unconvinced. Conviction has TV movie written all over it, it boasts a sensationalist hook but lacks the style of similar ‘real events’ stories (yes 127 Hours, I’m looking at you), it numbs its audience with needless flashbacks and a thoroughly brutish Sam Rockwell, and it stars that man from The O.C. – you know, the one with the eyebrows?

However, I went with it. Choking up like an absolute loser, I found myself praying to Erin Brockovich that poor Hilary Swank’s life might not have been entirely in vain. Swank is fantastic, acting through a hill-billy accent to deliver one of her most inspirational performances to date. Driver, too, threatening to go AWOL amidst all the family values, pulled a performance from The Deep that nigh on had me punching the air. It is a truly unbelievable story, an incomparable sacrifice and breathtaking miscarriage of justice that has you hating the American justice system almost as much as you hate Kenny Waters.

And that, too me, is the biggest criticism of Conviction. Why should we will  to help Kenny when he resolutely will not help himself. Engaging in brawls, swearing like a trooper and sporting an evolution-defying beard, Kenny takes the loveable out of lovable brute. He might not have murdered anyone, but he was hardly a welcome re-addition to society. The director appears to attempt to remedy this with backstory, and boy does he give it his best shot. Laced with scenes of their ‘difficult’ upbringing (puh-lease!), the opening act drags like a life sentence.

Conviction, then, is a moving story of one woman’s struggle against the system. It features some great performances from Swank and Driver, culminating in a truly reaffirming dénouement. That all of this is achieved despite Rockwell’s knuckles is testament to the good work of the real Betty Anne Waters: you go girl!


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Conviction (2010)

  1. Pingback: January 2011 – It’s on like Donkey Kong « popcornaddict

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