Review: Conviction DVD

Fox | DIRECTOR: Tony Goldwyn | CAST: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Peter Gallagher, Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo
RELEASE DATE: 2/1/11 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.98
BONUSES: interview with Betty Anne Waters
SPECS: R | 103 min. | Drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Conviction movie scene

Hilary Swank fights to free wrongfully imprisoned brother Sam Rockwell in Conviction.

Conviction is based on the real-life story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank, The Resident), a New England working class mom who saw her brother (Sam Rockwell, Moon) arrested and convicted for a murder he did not commit. He was put away for years and lost all hope himself. But Betty Ann’s love for him and her refusal to cynically tolerate the injustice led the high school dropout to bootstrap herself all the way through law school just so she could find a way for the law to legally have him freed.

Helmer Tony Goldwyn has been directing a lot of television in recent years (Justified, Dexter) but his talents were certainly sharp enough for an A-list theatrical feature, his first since 2006’s The Last Kiss. Hilary Swank once again displays her versatility and professionalism, contorting herself snugly into the role of a Betty Anne Waters. Filling out the solid supporting cast are the always appreciated Minnie Driver (TV’s The Riches), Peter Gallagher (Burlesque), Juliette Lewis (Due Date) and Melissa Leo (TV’s Treme), who won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance in The Fighter.

Conviction is true story that spans nearly 20 years in an adult lifetime, and as such it is faced with the task of sewing decades into a cohesive and compelling narrative, which it succeeds in doing quite well. Cognizant of the limitations of a tale whose happy outcome can be easily guessed, the script strings us along with foreboding hints that the brother may in fact be guilty and makes it clear that the obstacles Ms Waters overcame were no trivial things. While some of its scenes border on the formulaic, the film is a clear affirmation of the power of human potential, for which, as a Hilary Swank movie, it is probably — and sadly — destined to be forgotten.

As a bonus feature, the DVD and Blu-ray contain a 20-minute interview with the real Betty Anne Waters, who talks about her experiences consulting on Conviction’s production, which frequently found her on the set. And how does she feel about the casting of the film? “If I had to pick someone, I would have picked Hilary Swank to be playing me,” she laughs.


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About Alex

Alex Kikuchi loves movies of every size and variety and has fancied himself a film critic ever since Mystery Science Theater made it look so easy when he was a kid in the 1990s.