26 June 2013 | blanche-2
"Conviction" stars Hillary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher, and Juliette Lewis in the true-life story of Betty Anne Waters, who becomes an attorney in order to free her brother Kenny of a wrongful murder conviction.
I saw Betty Anne profiled some time ago -- back then, I think she was still in law school.
Kenny Waters is convicted of the murder of Katharina Brow (since she was German, I assume the original last name was Brau) who was viciously knifed in her home. The crime occurred in 1980, when there was no DNA testing, and Kenny had the same blood type as the perpetrator. Several witnesses, including Kenny's wife and ex-girlfriend, testify against him.
Betty Anne, a mother with two children, makes the decision to go to law school in order to free her brother. At that time, she doesn't even have her GED. She comes up against wall after wall, gets divorced, and her children, probably more to help her than anything else, finally go to live with their father. She moonlights running a bar.
Betty Anne contacts Barry Scheck (Gallagher) of the Innocence Project to enlist his group's help. Scheck needs evidence -- by then, it's been about 15 years since Kenny's conviction.
This is a powerful story because it shows, again, what the determination of one person can achieve, and how his or her passion can inspire others to help.
Hillary Swank is a gifted actress, and it's a shame that she hasn't gotten more roles like she had in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby. She's natural but intense as Betty Anne, and she can really pull at the heartstrings. Sam Rockwell as Kenny does a wonderful job, and the two have great chemistry together. You could feel his hopelessness, and his fear of being let down.
Everyone is good in this film, with Juliette Lewis as an ex-girlfriend and Melissa Leo as policewoman Nancy Taylor standouts.
The problem I have with this film is that, strip the movie of Hillary Swank and you've got a Lifetime movie. It just doesn't come off like a feature film in the way the story is told or in its focus. It's just a little bit left of cloying. Also, note to writers -- Kenny wasn't in jail, he was in prison. There's a difference.
Despite this, it's a wonderful story, all the more dramatic because it's true. And you can't get enough of its message: One person can make a difference.