Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby) turns in yet another winning performance in Conviction. Based on a true story, Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, a single mother who goes back to school to earn her GED, then her bachelor's degree, a master's in education, and eventually a law degree -- all in an effort to help exonerate her brother. Kenneth Waters was convicted in 1983 of the brutal 1980 murder of Katharina Brow in Ayer, Massachusetts. Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is no angel -- but Betty Anne feels she knows her brother the best, and is convinced he is innocent. So much so that she spends many years for just the chance to find a way to prove it.
Written by Pamela Gray and directed/co-produced by Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon, The Last Kiss), the story almost slips to TV movie quality at times -- maybe because so much ground (nearly 20 years) has to be condensed into a two-hour film. But Swank (Amelia), Rockwell (Everybody's Fine) and a great support cast led by Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting), Juliette Lewis (The Switch, Whip It!), Melissa Leo (Frozen River) and Peter Gallagher (Adam) give the film the heavy jolt needed to remind you that you're watching a truly remarkable story. And we're fortunate it got told in a theatrical release instead of a watered-down Lifetime TV production.
Now, I complain a lot about dumb movie titles that often contribute to a film's failure. Finally, we have a moniker that is genius. Think about it -- two uses of the word fit here. Waters fought so hard to find a way to overturn her brother's conviction -- because it was her firmly-held belief that he was innocent. This movie is quite a moving story of one's love for a sibling -- and should not be missed by anyone who loves his or her family. [Rated R; opens in select cites today, wider next Friday]
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- Fun fact: Tony Goldwyn comes from a long line of Hollywood producers, actors and writers. And although he has also now branched out to directing and producing, Goldwyn is probably still best known for his acting. He played bad guy Carl Bruner in 1980's Ghost and philandering business executive J.D. Sheldrake in a recent stint in Broadway's Promises, Promises (a role he'll reprise on the big screen).
- Goldwyn, Sam Rockwell and Betty Anne Waters attended my recent screening of Conviction. The next day, the three made the usual round of press stops to promote the film. Here below is their interview with Philadelphia NBC10's "The 10! Show."