05 July 2011

Movies: Conviction

Conviction (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1244754/

Biographical Drama based on true events

After Kenny was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, and after they had exhausted his appeals, Betty Anne puts herself through law school to get her brother released from prison.

Stars Hillary Swank as Betty Anne Waters, Sam Rockwell as her brother Kenny Waters. Also has Minnie Driver and Juliette Lewis.

Overall a good film and compelling story. The story is interspersed with flashbacks to Kenny and Betty Anne as children. The flashbacks try to impress how close of a relationship the two have, to explain what compels Betty Anne to sacrifice everything to get through law school to find some way to exonerate her brother.
Some of the early part of the film seems a little disjointed because of the cuts to flashback and back, but that smooths out as the film progresses and quickly becomes apparent that knowledge is necessary to emphasize the brother/sister relationship.
Some of the other character relationships aren't nearly as established/fleshed out, so some aspects are a little less convincing. But the story isn't really driven by the periphery, so I suppose that's why those parts suffer a little.

It is a good movie and a great story. They do fail to reveal one detail about Kenny, his death. Which is a shame. They could've put that in with the summary titles at the end. I suppose they wanted the film to end on a positive note.

Rockwell's performance is top notch as always, though his time on screen is considerably less due to incarceration. Outstanding 'aging' of his character from pre-arrest to 20 years in prison.  Swank just didn't seem to show aging near as much - she looked pretty much the same at the start through to the finish.  Juliette Lewis, as small as her part was, was amazing as well. Especially her transformation from her appearance in court to her 18-years later self.

And, as always with films based on true stories that aren't straight-up documentaries, there are some composite characters, some fictional conversations, some scenes, some time-shifting of events to make a story that's a little more coherent on film.

If you aren't much into the biographical drama sorts of films this one doesn't do anything that will change your mind about that genre. Whereas if you do like those types of films, or enjoy true life crime/law films this is a good one to watch. Good, not spectacular, and not a waste of time.

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