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I love watching movies based on true stories. Changeling was among my favourites. So when I heard about this movie, I immediately picked it up without any hesitation.
I watched it, and found it a bit long and in the end, uninteresting. I feel as though I lost 2 hours of my life on a movie that could have been much more interesting. This movie is by far boring and I couldn't get attached to any characters in there and could care less about what happened to them.
You might want to stay clear of this one.
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Conviction (drama, biography) Directed by Tony Goldwyn Starring Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver and Melissa Leo
20th Century Fox | 2010 | 102 min | Rated R | Released Feb 01, 2011
Video: Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video resolution: 1080p Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc: Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
The Film 3.5/5
Conviction tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Swank) and her 18-year fight to free her brother Kenny (Rockwell), who was convicted of murder. She was a young woman with two children, working in a bar at the time of Kenny's conviction. Instead of accepting it, she decided to study law part-time so that she could access evidence and fight the case on his behalf.
The story is told with the use of a few flashbacks. The first shows us how Kenny is arrested by police officer Nancy Taylor (Leo), while others show us the relationship between Kenny and Betty Anne when they were small children. Kenny is originally cleared of suspicion, but is arrested a second time two years later. After a series of damning testimonies, he receives a life sentence.
Both siblings struggle to adjust. Kenny tries to commit suicide in prison and Betty Anne almost flunks her class. She splits with her boyfriend and is dismayed when her two boys ask to live with their father because she doesn't spend enough time with them. Imagine having to give up your children in that way. Her decision to help her brother consumed her.
Betty Anne is given new hope when she learns in school that DNA testing has freed other wrongly-convicted prisoners.Read more ›
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The film won so many awards because the plot grips you and the story tugs on your heart like no other. It's more than just a drama, its suspenseful, intriguing and it keeps you guessing right to the very end...and it's a pleasantly happy end condsidering.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
When Determination Borders On Obsession--An Undeniably Appealing, But Flawed, Underdog StoryOct. 28 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
A sure-fire crowd pleaser, the film "Conviction" is based on an undeniably (and practically unbelievable) compelling true life story. Betty Anne Waters, a high school drop-out with a troubled youth, dedicated nearly two decades of her life to clear her unjustly convicted brother of a murder charge. She got a GED, applied and got into college, graduated law school and passed the bar, became her brother's representation and uncovered exculpatory evidence. But despite all her best efforts, it was still quite a trial to be heard and taken seriously. While I've thrown a lot of the film's plot at you right away, the advertising campaign already covers the same ground. This is a movie about character and the long road to justice as seen through Betty Anne's eyes (an imposing Hilary Swank). Far from a perfect movie, however, I'm sure audience will still embrace this--the ultimate underdog story.
Swank, as I mentioned, headlines this piece with a hard edged perseverance. She is quite believable as the matter-of-fact Betty Anne. Sam Rockwell plays her brother, the town troublemaker, with equal parts charm and menace. It's perhaps the film's most compelling performance and there are moments when he sinks to desperation that have real emotional resonance. Minnie Driver befriends Swank in law school, and though their friendship is contrived at best, she becomes a welcome presence in the film. She stands as the one truly appealing character as Swank's mania borders on selfishness and Rockwell is an unstable powder keg. Ironically, the film wants to continuously solicit sympathy for its leads without confronting the unpleasant truths--particularly that Rockwell was a violent repeat offender whom the entire town was able to embrace as a cold blooded killer.
My biggest concern about "Conviction" had little to do with the actual search for justice and everything to do with Betty Anne's character. She pursues her goal steadfastly--to the ruination of her marriage and the alienation of her children. Her conviction, as it were, has turned to obsession and every waking moment of her life in the film is dedicated to this one specific purpose. I can't help but think that the film necessarily glosses over some of the more unpleasant aspects of this pursuit. We get little of Swank's husband, her kids seem mildly annoyed once but are fine with their mother's lack of family focus, and there are never any concerns at work. More telling, Swank hasn't had a relationship with her beloved brother's daughter in all the time he's been in prison. I understand that such a relationship might have been complicated, but the film doesn't even try to explain her complete lack of concern over this family bond. She calls her niece near the end of the film and actually says in the message-- "you may not remember me." Wow! Seems like some of her dogged determination might have been applied to other relationships as well!
But, again, I don't think any of this will matter to most. At heart, there is no escaping the facts of "Conviction" and they present a uniquely fascinating story. The little guy sticking it to the man, David versus Goliath, "never quit"--man, I'm practically cheering myself. "Conviction" is a good film filled with earnest performances (a drunk Juliette Lewis is inspired) told in standard biopic format. I don't think it digs quite far enough into the characterizations, but the story sells itself. Fascinating, scary, frustrating, and even inspiring--the Betty Anne Waters saga was begging to be represented on the big screen! KGHarris, 10/10.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Swank Is Back with a Sharp Cast in an Inspiring Fact-Based Story Bordering on IncredulityOct. 23 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
After making decidedly wrong turns into rom-com in 2007's P.S. I Love You and historical biopic in 2009's Amelia, Hilary Swank is back in her element as Betty Anne Waters, a working-class single mother of two whose fierce loyalty to her troublemaking brother Kenny knows no bounds, in actor/director Tony Goldwyn's time-spanning, fact-based 2010 drama. Written by Pamela Gray (she and Goldwyn also collaborated on 1999's affecting A Walk on the Moon), the inspiring, potentially melodramatic plotline often borders on incredulity, but Swank's trademark iron-jawed tenacity is on full display here. At the same time, it's a primarily economic performance teetering on lunacy as her character is tightly bound to Kenny since they shared a painful childhood due to the neglect of a horrifying mother.
In 1983, Kenny is convicted of the bloody murder of an elderly neighbor largely on the basis of testimony from two former girlfriends, both of whom claimed he confessed his actions to them. Neither Kenny nor Betty Anne can afford a good attorney, so she decides to become a lawyer even though she's a high school dropout. Also serving as one of the film's executive producers, Swank come back securely to the against-all-odds territory of Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004) by following Betty Anne's sixteen-year journey from her GED through college, then law school, and finally passing the bar - all while she was raising two boys and working part-time at a local pub. The ending is predictable from a mile away, but the journey is not. The introduction of DNA evidence provides a linchpin that spins the story close to Lifetime-level dramatics, especially when Betty Ann solicits the assistance of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization devoted to overturning wrongful convictions. Gray's screenplay is solid enough, and Goldwyn's direction is assured within the back-and-forth treatment of the timeline.
However, it's really the acting that is aces here. Beyond Swank's sterling work, Sam Rockwell brings an unpredictable furor and a surprising vulnerability to the showier role of Kenny. His rapport with Swank never feels forced, and the devotion of their sibling relationship is what really grounds the threat of hysterics in the film. The periphery is populated by a powerful squad of actresses turning in sharply etched work - Minnie Driver as Betty Ann's law-school friend Abra, whose comic spark highlights how pivotal her character is in representing the audience viewpoint; Melissa Leo (Frozen River) as the malevolent arresting cop, whose secretive hostility provides the impetus for Kenny's conviction; Juliette Lewis as Kenny's dentally-challenged ex-girlfriend with a drunken confession scene that reveals the actress's long-forgotten raw talent below her usual giddiness; Karen Young in a brief scene as the unforgivable Mrs. Waters; and Ari Graynor (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) as Kenny's embittered grown daughter. It's the cast's cumulative work that makes this movie intensely watchable.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Great Story, So-So Film-makingNov. 20 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Hilary Swank returns to the big screen in another strong female role as Betty Anne Waters, the real life every day hero who changed the course of her life for a family member. Set primarily in Massachusetts, the Waters case revolves around the murder of a woman and the conviction of Kenny Waters (played by Sam Rockwell) - a lowlife type whose only real attributes are his daughter and his sister Betty. Believing he is innocent of the heinous crime, Betty Anne Waters spends numerous years going to college, law school, and then in investigation of the crime she truly doesn't believe her brother committed.
Many viewers may already know the ending if they remember the news coverage around the event - much of which involved recently re-elected Attorney General Martha Coakley (who is portrayed only briefly on screen in the film). If you know the outcome - which is a twist in itself - this movie is still worth seeing for the great acting from Swank and Rockwell. If you don't know the ending going in, don't read anything else about the film as the payoff will be that much greater.
Technically the film is a little choppy - the editing, pace, and supporting character development left quite a bit to be desired. That being said, the story itself is so fascinating and compelling that forgiving the films technical flaws becomes quite easy. I would suggest checking this one out. It's a lot like A Civil Action with John Travolta, but not quite as good.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Powerful true story about a man wrongly convicted and the woman trying to free him. Very inspirational and moving. I say AJan. 31 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
A true story about a sister (Swank) knowing that her brother (Rockwell) who is prison for murder is innocent and fighting to prove it. Two years after being questioned and let go in a murder case Kenny Waters (Rockwell) is convicted and is sent away for life. Knowing that he is innocent Betty Anne Waters (Swank) attends law school in order to become her brothers lawyer. This is one powerful movie. I've always thought that Sam Rockwell is a very underrated actor and in this movie he gives a powerful performance. The fact that this is a true story makes this movie all the more inspiring, moving and gut wrenching. This is a must see and I don't want to give anything away, but this movie explores and exposes the flaws in the legal system. This movie is a roller-coaster ride of emotion that will make you address your feelings on the subject matter and root for justice to prevail. Watch this film!!! I give it an A.
Would I watch it again? - Yes, I would make some people I know watch it too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Conviction - one of the best films of the year!Dec 1 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Loyalty: It something we all expect from our loved ones, but we so rarely receive. How loyal would our families be if we were convicted of a crime we were innocent of and sent to prison for the rest of lives? Would they put all their worldly desires away to do everything in their power to see to our injustice? I dare say that I know that it takes a special few that have such perseverance or such conviction.
Hilary Swank stars in the film so aptly titled Conviction. Here again Swank portrays the real-life Betty Ann Waters. Betty Ann's brother, Kenny was convicted of a violent murder in their home town in Massachusetts and sent to prison in 1983. Betty Ann and Kenny grew up in a dysfunctional home and were tossed around to a plethora of foster homes during their childhood and adolescence. The only family they had was each other. Their relationship was so close and intimate that there was no doubt in her mind that her brother was incapable of murder. Kenny was a self-admitted bad boy. He had been arrested so many times in their small community that when Kenny's neighbor turned up murdered it seemed to be an easy assumption that Kenny was the perpetrator of the crime.
Betty Ann had no money for high-paid lawyers and when Kenny tries to kill himself in prison, she came up with a solution to their problem. She will go to college, then law school and then become a lawyer and find the evidence to set her brother free. This sound like a plot made-up in a studio office, but it is the true story of this amazing woman. And, there would be no movie, if Betty Ann's astounding story didn't have a happy ending.
Telling this story is difficult. But the even script by Pamela Gray provides a good point of departure for Tony Goldwyn's direction and the moving performances by the actors. Without hesitation, Hilary Swank is definitely back, her disappointing performance as Amelia Earhart last year could have ended her trip down the red carpet to win Oscar gold forever. Her performance playing Betty Ann is subtle and convincing. But it's not just Hilary Swank's performance that should be noted. Sam Rockwell's portrayal of Kenny Waters is amazing and heart-wrenching. His scenes in prison are remarkable as he so effortlessly depicts the wide range of emotions from complete hopelessness when years of imprisonment wear on him to utter joy when he learns that his sister has done the impossible. And lastly, Minnie Driver makes a great impression playing Betty Ann's law school friend. It's a role that could garner attention at award time, and hopefully will lead to more roles in the future.
Conviction is one of the best films of the year. It is a story of never-ending loyalty and love of a sister. It is an inspirational and uplifting film. This film will make you believe again, that with desire, perseverance and the conviction to never stop trying, almost anything is possible.
The Buzz: If Sam Rockwell is not recognized during award season, it will be a shame!
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