Hilary Swank has made an impressive career out of playing against the traditional female type--portraying physically and emotionally strong characters by which only death could stop them from continuing to fight the good fight. And Conviction is no exception.
Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, the real-life mother of two who sacrifices the better part of life to free her brother Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) from his wrongful imprisonment. Without even a high school degree under her belt, Betty Anne went from high school drop out to full-fledged attorney. But not after losing her husband, putting a strain on the relationship she had with her kids, and almost losing all hope in the process. And it only took eighteen years to gather and recover all the evidence to prove Kenny an innocent man. But she wasn't going to give up on her brother and, though rowdy and uncontrollable at times, her best friend.
As flashbacks of Kenny and Betty Anne's childhood are streamed throughout the movie, audiences get to see their misfit-like life that was basked in their love for one another, even after being shuffled around from one foster home to the next. As Betty Anne faces one more roadblock in the neverending case, we're reminded on what this particular good fight is all about.
Swank is engaging as the central character in the movie. Rockwell, who really serves as Swank's pawn performance (he's more of a reactor than an actor in this role), is a solid choice for Kenny though not thoroughly engaging in the movie. He's definitely had better performances, as had Swank. Juliette Lewis, who plays one of the witnesses on trial, reminded audiences why we love her in one of two brief, yet memorable, scenes that ran the gamut of fearful, angry, and regretful all in a matter of a minutes-long monologue. When will she finally get her due as an actress?
Truth of the matter is Conviction, similar to The Blind Side, really could have been a pretty adequate TV movie. For the big screen, it didn't hold up as strong but did manage to hash out a good story led by strog performances regardless.