Hilary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, a young woman whose world is shattered when her beloved brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Steadfastly convinced of his innocence, Betty Anne embarks on an 18-year journey to set Kenny free, using state-of-the-art forensic technology.
Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) is not exactly a model citizen, he’s been in and out of jail for misbehaving and hanging out with the wrong crowd, so when a murder happens, Kenny becomes its number one suspect. Trouble is he says he’s innocent and only his sister Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) believes him.
Convicted and sent to prison for a crime he supposedly didn’t commit, Kenny asks Betty Anne to let him off the hook and the only way to do it is when she gets her high school diploma, studies law, and passes the BAR exam to become his lawyer. You’d think this is all fiction but it’s actually the truth. The film ‘Conviction’ is based on true events and that’s what exactly happened – Betty Anne became a lawyer and defended her brother in court to exonerate him.
Actor-director Tony Goldwyn helmed ‘Conviction’, a court room crime drama set in wrong side of the tracks of Michigan in the 80’s and 90’s. The cold and uneven environment with its equally downtrodden people gets to you. You get a sense that where Kenny and Betty Anne grew up, they can’t help themselves but be more nothing than somebody. Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell deliver adroit performances, Juliette Lewis makes a manic and effective appearance, and Melissa Leo is a murky cop crusader who’d rather get the guy and be done with it than back the case with evidence. Like any drama, the catalyst will always be the proof.
The intricacies and hidden depths are not really explored even if we see the devotion of Betty Ann to her brother Kenny. We get familial melodramas but melodrama does not make a serious film make. We can always get that from TV.
‘Conviction’ would have been a much better film if it doesn’t scream ‘Give me an Oscar’, especially for Hilary Swank. She’s already got two; stop collecting them statues.