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November 2, 2010 > Movie Review: Conviction

Movie Review: Conviction

By Mona Shah

The opening shot of "Conviction" has Oscar winner Hilary Swank lock eyes with Sam Rockwell. With just a couple of seconds of emotional screen time, we know their story and can even guess their history.

He's in the joint. She's trying to get him out... they're siblings.

In "Conviction," based on real events, two-time Oscar-winning actor Hilary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, a working class Massachusetts high school dropout whose short-fused older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is given a life sentence in 1983 for a murder he says he did not commit. Over the next two decades, Betty Anne completes high school and college, and then makes it through law school - all for the sole purpose of representing Kenny in court and winning his freedom.

Throughout Kenny's years in jail and Betty Anne's ongoing struggle with life, family and law school, "Conviction" takes us on an emotional roller coaster. Working from a Pamela Gray script, director Tony Goldwyn fills in the details of the crime, the trial, and ensuing years in flashbacks, giving away the tale's secrets with care. The focus is on Betty Anne as she rolls up her working class sleeves and resolves to do something - get a law degree and take over her brother's case.

What makes "Conviction" worth seeing is its depiction of a self-immolating crusader. Betty Anne devotes her life to her brother's redemption, sacrificing her marriage and connection with her two children... without a single regret.

Runtime: 107 min
Rated: R for language and some violent images

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