Conviction: A Legal Drama You Can Rule In Favor Of

22 10 2010

Conviction, based off the true story of Betty Anne Waters and her brother Kenny, stars two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank, as well as Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver and Juliette Lewis. Here’s the breakdown:

After her brother, Kenny, was convicted of murder in 1983, Betty Anne Waters devoted her life to proving him innocent. She put herself through law school, sacrificed her family and persevered when there seemed to be no hope; Betty Anne’s journey changed her life, and the life of her beloved brother, forever.

The Monkey: At first glance, Conviction might seem like a sappy Lifetime movie at worst or a run-of-the-mill legal thriller at best. It’s neither – due in large part to the incredible talent involved. Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell blew me away. They were Betty Anne and Kenny Waters. Their on-screen chemistry was unmistakable, making the emotions palpable and bringing a reality to the movie that, without, could have tanked the whole thing. Hilary Swank has two Oscars for a reason, and this movie just might be her vehicle for lucky number three. Everything about her performance, from her accent to her facial expressions, was spot on. And kudos to Sam Rockwell for making Kenny a sympathetic character. Kenny isn’t the greatest guy; in fact, he’s kind of a douche. Yet Rockwell brings a level of humanity to his character that can’t be ignored. This is not a one-dimensional character, and his portrayal challenges criminal and tough-guy stereotypes every step of the way. His performance deserves Oscar recognition, especially in light of the gross dismissal of his performance in last year’s Moon.

Aside from the two leads, Conviction was littered with inspired performances. Minnie Driver and Juliette Lewis nearly steal the show whenever they are on-screen. Driver brought much needed levity and humor to the film, and it was perfectly measured: not overdone, just enough. And Lewis’ turn as a cracked-out witness was hilarious, sad and deftly executed. I would be disappointed if both these amazing actresses didn’t see a Best Supporting Actress nomination come Oscar season.

Conviction was expertly written by Pamela Gray, and Tony Goldwyn’s direction gave the film a driving force and a quick pace that never left the audience bored. Viewers feel elated when Betty Anne makes progress, and devastated when new roadblocks spring up. While the outcome was never really in question, the path to the end was satisfyingly thrilling, making it a truly enjoyable movie-going experience.

The Weasel: Betty Anne sacrifices a lot for her brother, and at one point, her drive has a negative impact on her family. This is never fully addressed, at least to my satisfaction. Was she right to make such sacrifices? When does one draw the line? What if this film had taken a different perspective; would the audience have viewed Betty Anne’s actions differently? I was hoping for a little more closure here, or at the very least, a realization on Betty Anne’s part of the level of sacrifice she made. Her struggle in the movie is very surface level and could have been a much bigger part of the story.

An amazing story about an amazing woman, Conviction packs four Oscar-worthy performances into an Oscar-worthy film. I would be shocked to see this film overlooked come award season.

5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was Conviction a successful family drama/courtroom thriller? Do you think the film deserves some Oscar recognition? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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One response

1 04 2012
Hereafter, Conviction & Paranormal Activity 2 movie reviews – Nerdvana |

[…] Based on a true story, Conviction combines the best parts of a family drama and a courtroom thriller. Hilary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, an East Coast woman determined to prove her brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is innocent of murder. Swank and Rockwell deliver amazing performances and are joined on-screen by the brilliant Minnie Driver and Juliette Lewis. this movie is riveting and thoroughly enjoyable; it’s sure to be an Oscar favorite come award season. Read the full review here. […]

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