October 15, 2010


What if you were someone’s only hope? What if that someone was your brother? That’s exactly the position Betty Ann Waters (the plucky Hilary Swank) found herself in in 1983, when her brother, Kenny (the amazing Sam Rockwell), was convicted of murder. Wrongly, she believed.
Based on a true story that took place in Ayer, Massachusetts, Betty Ann becomes a lawyer in order to exonerate her brother and works unceasingly for 18 years on his behalf.

This fine little drama (could it be that dramas are returning to the Cineplex?) also stars the exquisite Melissa Leo as Kenny’s arresting officer. Minnie Driver is Betty’s law school friend who gets involved, and Juliette Lewis does a truly patheticomic turn as one of Kenny’s old girlfriends. If the highest compliment you can give an actor is that their performance was a “revelation,” Juliette Lewis was a “revelation.”

Betty Ann and Kenny basically grew up wild and running in the streets, were placed in foster homes, and Kenny always found himself in trouble with the law. When he grew up, he was an easy target to pin the gruesome murder of an elderly woman on. The flashbacks of the pair as little playmate-hoodlums explain why they are “joined at the hip” in adulthood and are so fiercely devoted to each other. The filmmakers plant doubt in our minds about Kenny’s innocence, but Betty Ann never doubts her brother.

The actors pretty much nail the Boston accent, cadence and tough-but-charming attitude and swagger, especially Sam Rockwell.

Like Diane Lane in “The Perfect Storm,” and Uma Thurman in “Motherhood,” Hilary Swank is just a little too classically good-looking and refined of carriage, movement and demeanor to convince that she’s “average.” But her acting is truly in the moment and genuine. She can’t help the looks.

It’s difficult to say more about this film without giving away the ending. Was he innocent or not? Does he get out or not? You’ll have to see for yourself. The sacred trust of all movie-goers must not be broken. Remember how well audiences kept secret the ending of “Sixth Sense” and “Harry Potter” books and movies?

In the vein of “Erin Brockovich,” “A Civil Action,” and “The Hurricane,” “Conviction”’s uniqueness lies in that it is a beautiful love story of a sister and brother, of the true meaning of family, and of laying down one’s life for another.

--Why do I always see Hilary in my mind’s eye in that hideous backwards navy blue clingy dress she wore at the Golden Globes? I need to get over that. And I must go on record to say that I actually loved Bjork’s swan dress at the Oscars (it wasn’t a real swan). Why here? Why now? Because we’re talking about dresses.

--The little kid actors are great (I recognize the little girl from “Letters to God”). It’s scary how good today’s young actors are. Is anyone else scared?

--Kenny’s daughter is played to understated perfection by the always-enthralling Ari Graynor (from Boston!) who looks somewhat like Ke$ha.

--The music is definitely tear-jerking, but not over-the-top: flowing piano and violins.

--Martha Coakley no looka so good in this movie.

--"Massachusetts" was filmed in Michigan. Fooled me.

--Female screenwriter: Pamela Gray. Yay!

--This movie should have been PG-13 (not R)--but for the use of the “f” word. It’s just not fair.

--HD report: Hilary has natural, beautiful facial lines (Minnie Driver? Not so much—perhaps hidden by all those curls?) Could it be that Hollywood is *gasp* allowing women to age gracefully??

OK--you were warned. What if Kenny HADN'T been innocent? Would it have been OK for Betty Ann to keep loving him? I KNEW he would be innocent because we had to have a Hollywood ending and audiences are not allowed to root for murderers (unless they're mafia). Also, in an unrelated(?) matter, it seems, in real life, the murdered woman's children are upset because they weren't consulted for the movie.

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  1. I think it's spelled "Ke$ha"

  2. Thanks! Symbols don't show when ya Google 'em

  3. All in all, time well spended here.

  4. Anonymous5:03 PM

    The story is good it really makes me feel intersted to see it. For me the part of each actor as he puts his hole self into it makes one feel how true is it? and also in acting the different parts makes me feel part of the story. I approve this true story

  5. I haven't watch this movie. But after reading the article i find the movie interesting so i better watch this one. =)

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