CONVICTION Review


I have been anxious to see this film since I saw the first trailer for it last summer and was surprised not to see it have a wide release this fall with award nominations to follow. While waiting for it to end up in a theater near me or on DVD I was wondering why such an inspiring story with more than able actors would not be garnering more attention than this did. I almost expected this to be somewhat of a disappointment. This is not true though, in fact it is as rousing and as inspirational as we were led to believe it would be.

The film effortlessly slides back and forth in time, compiling the full story of what has happened to Kenny Waters and why his sister has gone to the lengths she has for her brother. As Betty Anne, Hilary Swank shows why she is one of the more underrated actresses working today. Since her Oscar earning performance in "Million Dollar Baby" she hasn't had much success with picking projects. This role though gives her the opportunity to really invest in someone the viewing audience has no prior notions of. She fully inherits the Massachusetts native who comes from nothing to become a lawyer for the sake of family. It is nothing short of a struggle as it tears apart her own family and leaves her world empty of anything other than the next step in proving her brothers innocence. The real scene stealer here though is Rockwell. In a showy role, Rockwell makes Kenny a real man, not just the object of the films main plot. Kenny goes from loose cannon to a broken down elder who wants nothing more out of life than to see his sister succeed. 

The film never makes us doubt Kenny, but we question him. He is what the story hinges on, even if the makers are always showing us what Betty Anne's next step is. What we are truly waiting for is to see if Kenny can make it long enough to prove his sisters actions were indeed worth the sacrifice and Rockwell keeps the tension high the entire time. Which bodes well for the pacing of the film.At nearly two hours the film flys by. We are so wrapped up in the conflict, the details and so interested to see how things unfold even if we know the outcome. Along with the two great lead performances, Minnie Driver adds a touch of comedy as Betty Anne's one and only friend as well as small supporting roles from Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo and an especially welcome Ari Graynor showing she can do more than play the funny drunk girl.

Director Tony Goldwyn has crafted a superb film. One that, as corny as it may sound, is a true example of the human spirit. "Conviction" is an honest try at showing the bonds that going through life together creates between two human beings. It sends a strong message and will tug on your heart. It may not be the award winning film I anticipated it being, but it is an amazing story and one that fully deserved to be put to film. Nothing short of an achievement.