A sister goes to law school to win her brother’s release from prison in the true life drama Conviction. Betty Anne Waters passionately believed her brother Kenny was innocent.
Best Actress Hilary Swank plays determined Betty Anne, who raises children while she studies and waitresses part time. Sam Rockwell brilliantly plays Kenny, a wild man known for bar fights, crazy stunts and bad luck.
Poor kids in trouble
Kenny and Betty Anne were poor, unsupervised kids in rural New England. The police knew them for pranks like shoplifting and sneaking into people’s trailers.
Sometimes the best films are based on real, hardscrabble folks like these who manage to squeeze sweetness from their lives.
The drama is brought down to earth immediately by Swank, Rockwell and an excellent cast. Actor-turned-director Tony Goldwyn (grandson of producer Samuel Goldwyn) keeps dramatic tension alive as Kenny’s innocence is doubted, testimony is questioned, and legal complications arise.
Conviction’s sound track is too precious for its honest look at class and criminal justice in America.
Wild Sam Rockwell
Rockwell has come a long way since Wild Bill Wharton served his last days on The Green Mile. Here the actor portrays Kenny throughout 18 years of hope and despair. The bright spot of his life, little sister Betty Anne, stubbornly defends him just as she did in childhood. Rockwell and Swank are luminous as brother and sister.
Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo (The Fighter; Frozen River) is devastating as Nancy Taylor, a beat cop and the only woman on the force who seems to hate Kenny more than she does herself. Minnie Driver is superb as Abra Rice, the law school classmate who matter-of-factly befriends Betty Anne at a neighborhood bar.
Stellar cast contributes
Kenny’s ex-wife (Clea DuVall) and former lover (Juliette Lewis), both of whom helped put him away, perfectly embody shattered survivors. Ari Graynor conveys her mixed emotions as Kenny’s grown daughter Mandy.
Karen Young is heart wrenching as ill and bewildered Elizabeth Waters. Peter Gallagher plays Innocence Project director Barry Scheck, a busy idealist who assists Betty Anne after she manages to unearth long lost evidence.
Goldwyn shows restraint in not revealing Kenny’s fate after prison. For all its anguish, Conviction is a film that has earned its happy moment. (5 out of 5 stars)
Conviction 2010 / R / 1 hour, 47 min
Cast Overview: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Clea DuVall, Peter Gallagher, Karen Young, Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis, Ari Graynor
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Genres: Drama, Thriller, Drama Based on Real Life, Biopic